Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Realm Without You!!!!

Tere bin main yun kaise jiyaaa-aaaah
How have I lived without you??
Kaise jiya-aaah tere bin?
How have I lived without you??
Tere bin main yun kaise jiya
How have I lived without you??
Kaise jiya tere bin
How have I lived without you??
Lekar yaad teri raaten meri kati
I spent the nights with your memories,
Mujhse baaten teri karti hai chaandani
The moonlights talks to me about you,
Tanha hai-aaaaaaaah tujh bin raaten meri!!!!
My nights are lonely without you!!!!!
Din mere din ke jaise nahi
My days are unlike days,
Tanha badan tanha hai ruh nam meri aankhen rahe
A lonely body, a lonely soul, my eyes remain wet,
Aaja mere ab rubaru
Just come before me now,
Jeena nahi bin tere
For there is no life without you!!!!!
Tere bin main yun kaise jiya
How have I lived without you??
Kaise jiya tere bin
How have I lived without you??

Kabse aankhen meri raah mein tere bichhi
My eyes lay unto the road you left by,
Bhule se hi kabhi tu mil jaaye kahi
In the hope of finding you somewhere by mistake,
Bhule na mujhse baaten teri
I cannot forget the talks with you!!!
Bheegi hai har pal aankhen meri
In every moment, there are tears in my eyes,
Kyun saans loon kyun main jiyu
Why should I continue breathing, why should I live,
Jeena bura sa lage
Since life is becoming unpleasant,
Kyun ho gaya tu bewafaaa mujhko bata de wajah
Why have you left me, do give me the reason why.
Tere bin main yun kaise jiya
How have I lived without you??
Kaise jiya tere bin ...
How have I lived without you??

- Atif Aslam, "Tere Bin"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Love Comes to Mind

Sundar ho ik man ka mandir (so beautiful is the temple inside my mind)
baithe ho piya jiske andar (within which my lover resides)
dur thei jese saath samandar (we were as far away as the seven seas)
aaj hue hain ek hi antar (and now we have become one meaning)
humre man ko bhaye (and this brings me joy)
man me more piya aaye (my love comes to mind)
jese aankh me kaajal bhaye (like mascara to the eye)

~ Karsh Kale, 'Some Things are Ok"

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Leave Harry Potter Alone!

For some reason, I feel like talking about this! The new Harry Potter film is about to be released in theaters, and the last Harry Potter novel by the brilliant J.K. Rowlings is bound to break all kinds of records in bookstores later this month. Again, we are hearing the same complaints by the uber concerned Evangelical right, that Harry Potter is an enemy of God and a threat to the purity of our future generation. In the Academy Award nominated documentary film "Jesus Camp," the head of the camp, Becky Fischer, announces with religious zeal that Harry Potter is an "enemy of God" and that if he was around during the time of the Old Testament, he would have been "put to death." She shouts on, "You don't make heroes out of warlocks!" Cheers and applause follows, not just by parents, but also by the dozens of 9-12 year old children. Others like Ms. Fischer express their opposition towards J.K. Rowling, calling her irresponsible and a temptress who lures children to "her seductive call" of godless paganism. I suppose the reason why this issue is so controversial and sensitive is because, as Ms. Fischers says, "Satan goes after the young" and according to these Christian groups, Satan himself has taken the form of Harry Potter - a lovable and fascinating adolescent - in order to corrupt the youth.

Before I continue, I must admit that I overact a little when it comes to boycotting movies because of the messages I believe they convey. Maybe it has something to do with me being Muslim. Hmm, okay bad joke. But I have come across arguments stating that some of the works of C.S. Lewis (author of "The Chronicles of Narnia") and J.R.R. Tolkien ("Lord of the Rings") both contain somewhat obvious, though subtle, anti-Muslim/anti-Eastern sentiments. This is not uncommon in literature, especially with fiction writers. Roald Dahl (author of "Matilda" and "Charlie and Chocolate Factory") has been often criticized for his work being anti-Semitic and racist towards Africans, while Dante Alighieri wishes a painful torment and death to Prophet Muhammad and Ali (both mentioned by name) in his acclaimed "The Divine Comedy." And as some of my friends remember, with my ill-temper, I demanded a boycott for the recent film "300", where 300 Spartans slice and dice thousands of Persians. In an interview with NPR, the creator of "300", Frank Miller, called Islam "sixth century barbarism" and declared that Iraq started the war. You can read the entry I wrote for that on my other blog: Realm of Mystics and Seekers (sounds like the most appropriate place to write something like that, rrrright?)

I am not trying to make a mockery of the Christian individuals and organizations who oppose Harry Potter. But unlike Dante and Frank Miller, who are unapologetic about their controversial material, J.K. Rowling is a "churchgoing Presbyterian, who is infruriated that people think her books occultish and anti-Christian." Islam expresses abhorrence towards witchcraft and paganism as much as Christianity (if not more), so I can understand how from an indoctrinated perspective, it can be quite difficult to overlook the witchcraft element of Harry Potter. But this is fantasy, it's not preaching Wicca or paganism to children. That would be like saying "Star Wars" is preaching a religion in of itself, but we all know that we can't move objects with our minds or a wand, right? (hopefully). Sure, J.K. Rowling's receives letters from die-hard fans who want to be accepted intp Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but every fan-based medium has its group of eccentric fanatics (there are people out there who can speak the language of Huttesse, which is a fictitious language in the Star Wars films. I am guilty of knowing the name of the language as well as knowing how to say a few phrases, but uhh, let's not get into that). The novels themselves are wonderful fantasy and escape stories, but they also contain morals and messages on friendship, self-esteem, self-discovery, and trusting a Higher Calling. Although I have seen the films, I have not read any of the novels as of yet. Recently though, I decided to pick up one of the Harry Potter novels and read it for about ten minutes. I was amazed to see how well written they are, but more importantly, these books have made children read more. How often do you see children turn off their Playstations or Xbox's to sit down and read a book? The novels contain no pictures, yet children are drawn to the magic of J.K. Rowling's writing. Before the Harry Potter series, children were intimidated by 200+ pages. Now, thanks to Harry Potter, they are reading over 500 pages. I remember a couple of years ago, I met my 10 years-old kid cousin who is immensely in Love with "Star Wars", and I was so excited because I was just as obsessed when I was younger. I gave him two "Star Wars" novels (about 200 pages each) and the next time I saw him, he had read both of them! It's no secret that reading, especially for children, helps improve our writing and communication skills. Very rarely do we find things for our children that is fun and educational at the same time, so these readings ought to be encouraged, not discouraged! I understand parents being concerned about the youth, and I believe we should all be, but there are far worse things out there than Harry Potter. When children become teenagers and when teenagers become young adults, and so on, unless you isolate them 24/7 from the outside world, they are bound to have encounters with what we don't want them to be exposed to. I was exposed to a lot of things in fifth grade that I knew my parents wouldn't want me to know about, but it was nothing they could have prevented since the inappropriate material was coming from the mouths of my fellow classmates. If you don't allow your child to read/watch Harry Potter, they will find someone in school who is allowed to and they will secretly watch it without telling you. But as I argue, Harry Potter is harmless because there is no attack on Christianity nor is the author or filmmakers supportive of those sentiments. It's important for our children to know about their religion, their spiritual and moral values, but if there is something parents disagree with, they need to communicate to children in a manner that they will understand, not in fervent judgment. I don't have any children by the way, I'm not a parent, so I don't wish to pretend that I know what I'm talking about, lol.

The other thing that I feel needs to be understood about Harry Potter is that he's a "Messiah" character, as I like to call them. In the same tradition that Anakin (and Luke) Skywalker are in "Star Wars" or Frodo is in "Lord of the Rings," or Neo is in "The Matrix", Harry Potter - in respect to the world in which he lives - is prophecized to bring an end to the tyranny of Lord Voldemort. These Messiah characters are usually believed in by a few supporting characters, but battle with self-doubt and struggle with choices they have to make. They are often called "The Chosen One". Eventually, the Messiah character makes a remarkable discovery about him/herself and finally understands what he/she must do. If anything, Harry Potter is Christian allegory. I have no idea what Harry Potter does in the last book, but if he does, in fact, sacrifice himself, then he would be no different than many of the other Messiah characters in literature and film. Even if he doesn't sacrifice himself, he still is an accompaniment to those characters. There is a book on the shelf now, which I recommend to anyone who still considers Harry Potter "evil", called "Looking for God in Harry Potter." I think this would be a great additional reading parents may want to seriously consider giving to their children, especially if they're concerned about their sons or daughters wanting to be warlocks or witches, respectively. In the end, as I think about these wonderful stories (from Harry Potter to Star Wars to the Matrix), they are fantastical re-tellings of our spiritual texts and beliefs and we can relate to them because as we cheer on the "Chosen One" we are also subconsciously remembering the ones who we consider Chosen by the Great Truth. Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Siddhartha. Ya Allah, how You have inspired our humanity.

Or... you're just having a great time at the movies! (or reading!)

*hums the Harry Potter theme song*

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Ramadan may be over, but it doesn't feel that way to me. In fact, it doesn't have to be over for anyone. Everything you learned and experienced during Ramadan is taken with you on the journey of life. I like to think of Ramadan as a month that reminds us to be conscious and aware of God, which in turn helps us to learn more things about who we are. I feel the same way about prayer. It's a daily visit to the timeless relam, a detachment from the outer reality, and direct communication with God. This Ramadan, I did not finish reading the Holy Qur'an as I wanted to, but I am not disappointed since I've been spending a lot of time reflecting on many of the beautiful verses I've read. I rejoice knowing that there are so many things in life that I have yet to learn. The Qur'an continually repeats itself, but for a significant purpose. Daily things like rain or sunrise are overlooked but the Qur'an emphasizes on them as signs of the Creator. I admit that at times, when I first came across these verses, I didn't think too much of them until I awakened to their true meaning. It's a comforting Truth knowing that everything in life is a miracle and that those who see God in everything, see the horizons of infinite possibilities. I find comfort knowing that everything happens for a reason. Many people don't like to think of fate because it makes them feel powerless. There came a point where I would to my friends (and myself) that I find Peace in my aspirations to embrace the path that God has written for me. I still feel this way, it is still what I long for because I believe everyone is here for a purpose, everyone has something special and beautiful to share here.

I've been feeling the presence of Beauty. I'm having a tough time finding a handle on words to express how I feel, but then I loosen my grip and tell myself that I don't need to try so hard. Seeing old friends, making new ones, talking about God, feeling His Presence, and spending time with family, all these things really light up my soul. The next time you spend time with your friends or family, take a moment to awaken to the Beauty that is living around you. The moment becomes that much more special and treasured. Sometimes, you may feel alone or other times occupied in other things, but always know that it is there. If looking at the sky does not satisfy you, then wait till nightfall and gaze at the moon, and be reminded of God's Creations. I know the world can be a rough place. Unexpected things can happen and the next thing you know, you're walking on an unfamiliar road. But this is how God teaches us. This is how we discover more about ourselves. I am saddened, disturbed, and even angered at times whenever I turn on the news because all I see is a selfish world. But we have to tell ourselves that we Love the Beauty of this Existence more than the warring nations hate one another. The same should be said about our internal wars as well, Love should overpower the negative forces. To focus on the flaws of one community or nation is to neglect the whole of humanity, it is to neglect the human family, for are we not brothers and sisters, universally and spiritually connected? It is Pure Love that will awaken the world, and Pure Love that must be implemented in our societies.

I believe we are all looking for answers in life and we are all looking for happiness. I believe it starts with giving, with sharing, with Love. There is not enough Love in the world, instead there is superficiality. Giving a smile or sharing a word of wisdom or saying something encouraging can really make a difference in someone's world. We overlook so many things in life, so many things are left unsaid, so many things aren't carried out, either because we're afraid or we don't have enough time or simply because we don't believe we have anything to give. The truth is, everyone has something special and valuable, and it must be shared. We must Give because to Give is to behave like God. To Give is to get in touch with Divinity. Smile and greet someone out of pure peace and pure Love and you will understand what I'm talking about.

Always be true to others as well as yourself, and never forget about the Unseen Presence. Let it be known that we are never alone. Never.

Qualiter blasphematis in Deum? Et eratis mortui, et uiuificauit uos; deinde mortificabit uos; deinde uiuificabit; demum ad eum redibitis.

(from Latin)

How can you disbelieve in God? For when you were dead, he gave you life, and then he will cause you to die, and then he will give you life, and then to him you will be returned.

~ Holy Qur'an 2:28

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Things I Wish to Accomplish This Ramadan

  • Finish reading the Qur'an. Last year, I was really serious about finishing the M.A.S. Abdel Haleem translation, but I only read up till the 37th Surah. The Holy Qur'an is the Supreme Authority because it is the actual Word of God, and whenever I read it, I feel a certain wave of comfort that I don't feel when I'm reading something else. There are many misconceptions about Islam in the world today, but to fully understand this way of life, we must start with the Holy Qur'an. I know that I will always be reading this Divine Book, because there is always something new to discover and experience.

  • Pray and meditate on a more consistent basis so that I'm more mindful of God. We all have other things that go on in our lives and we may not always find the time to pray, but we can be mindful of Him. Sometimes, all it takes is a moment of deep thought or closing your eyes and feeling the Divine Wind breathe into you. I wish to be closer to God.

  • Modest speech. Just because I don't swear anymore doesn't mean I've perfected modest speech! There are other terms and phrases that I want to abstain from saying. They're not profanity, they're just words that don't need to be said because there are alternatives. Sometimes I'll say something and I'll think, "that's a little too worldly, there's another way to say that." Some of the things we say imply something profane and we don't even know it! So be mindful of what you say, reflect on the meaning of the words, because many times we're not even thinking about the meanings. To me, this means a lot because to master the art of speaking is to get in touch with our inner Divinity.

  • Live more in the Present Moment. When one conquers time, one experiences Eternity. We may not be able to accomplish this at all times, but when we do, we get a taste of the Fruits of Paradise.

  • I wish to put the needs of others before myself. One of the five pillars in Islam is zakat, or charity, and it encourages us to think outside of ourselves. When we help others, we are also helping ourselves. We discover new things about us that we may have not known before.

  • Be at peace with myself as well as with others. To give Love selflessly is to worship the Creator and all He has Created.

  • Improve myself on many different aspects. I would like to cleanse myself of certain traits of mine that cause pain, frustration, and wasted energy. I believe surrendering to God is the best remedy.

  • Open my ears more to the Music that is always playing. Sometimes when I don't hear the Music, I need to be reminded by listening to something, and then I'll be at ease with things. I thought, if only I could hear it all the time, I would be more relaxed.

  • I need to believe in myself; believe that I have a Gift from God that needs to be shared for the better of the world, just like everyone else has a Gift. Not exactly the same Gift, but a Gift with the same purpose.

  • Sense of humor. Yes, I'm not a funny person. I wish to be funny. Someone please tell me some jokes to help me become funnier. Haha, just kidding. God wants us to be Happy, He Loves those who make their companions laugh, so share your compassion and smiles with one another! Savy?

  • I wish to become a better cook. No further comments.

  • All in all, I aspire to become a better person. One who is Universal, Expansive, Compassionate, and at Peace. But not "All-Knowing" for only God is All-Knowing. As Socrates once said, "The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing."
I might think of more things and add them later. But for now, this is what I can think of. What are your goals this Ramadan?

~ Jehanzeb

Friday, September 29, 2006


Well... I decided to finally create a blog on Blogger. This is my first time using this service, so don't be alarmed if things look a little messy (my brain is all over the place at times too). My first blog was created on MSN spaces and I became very comfortable with the way that worked. You can visit it here: Realm of Mystics and Seekers. You must be wondering, "if you already have a blog up, why are you creating another one?" Well, my other blog is mainly filled with poetry, spiritual writings, and short stories of mine, and there are times when I would just like to be more open and talk about every day things in life. But then I think: "No, it wouldn't be suitable on this blog" So here I am, creating another one :)

I like to tell my close friends that my life is an open book. Ask me anything and I'll answer. Anything except: Who are you? It's a difficult question to answer, isn't it? It's a question I often ask myself, mostly during times in my life when I'm stressed over what may be perceived as "small" things or when I'm upset about something that was most likely created in my mind. Sometimes I ask myself this question when I'm around other people and immediately notice how I change my behavior for whatever reason. I would like to be "simply me," but who is "me?" There are so many different masks we wear and most of the time, we're not even conscious of it. These are the masks I wear: Muslim, Pakistani (a highly confused one), Son, Brother, Cousin, Filmmaker, Student, Romantic/Mystic, Poet, American? Sometimes I'm shy, sometimes I'm not, sometimes I'm peaceful, other times I get angry... I can think of a countless other "masks" I wear and it only develops more questions. Perhaps all these things make up who I am.

I struggle with my identity a lot. Maybe I shouldn't consider "Muslim" as a mask because being Muslim means being human to me. The word "Human" and "Muslim" are ultimately the same to me, because "Muslim" means one who submits to God, and I believe all human beings come from God. But then what does it mean to be "Pakistani?" Some say that culture interferes too much with religion, so it should just be dropped all together, while others say that culture is more important than religion. I can't side with either of those views. If anything, I would like to be in the middle. I believe God created me this way for a reason and because of that, my ethnicity is special, but it doesn't mean that I should be a blind patriot and behave indifferently towards others just because they're not Pakistani. Sure, I was born in Pakistan, I've been there many times, but I never lived there. I grew up in the United States and finished grade school in a predominantley white area, so I never really bonded well with a fellow Pakistani. I was picked on many times when I was in school simply because of my skin color, ethnicity, and religious background. I remember a couple of kids who did the "Apu" (from the Simpsons) accent around me and try to provoke me. I ignored them all those years, and there are times when I think, "I should have said something." After September 11th, I became more outspoken. The usual statements were "these terrorists have weird names," "what kind of name is that?" "Arabic? Isn't that like Osama bin Laden language?" I even had someone call me Osama bin Laden and an "Afghanistanian Terrorist". Yeah, "Afghanistinian." So instead of being associated with Indians, I was now being associated with terrorists. For all they knew, Apu and Osama bin Laden come from the same part of the world. I made an effort to tell people that not all Muslims are terrorists, and some people listened, others didn't. I got upset one time in class when a student made a comment about Arabs, I scolded the teacher after class for not saying anything. Ironically, 9/11 made me more passionate about my faith and ethnic identity. I didn't want to fit in anymore, I started listening to world music, I started reading the Qur'an, praying more, and I even changed the way I behaved. For example, I stopped using curse words, I abstained from looking at girls, I distanced myself from certain people in my life, and just became more serious on developing modest and true character.

Anyway, sometimes I'm not sure where I fit in. I understand Urdu and know enough to get by, but I can't speak it as well as I would like to. I really like languages and I would Love to learn so many different ones, but I'm always haunted by the fact that my Urdu isn't what I want it to be. Then I start questioning if I'm capable of learning any language at all. Haha, I don't even think my English is that good either! But I really need to take one thing at a time... See, I jump around a lot! I like to believe I'm a passionate person; passionate about languages, cultures, religions, and of course, God and Love. There's an Arabic singer named Natacha Atlas; she does a lot of cross-cultural work, particularly with Middle-Eastern and South Asian music, and I was really inspired by one of her quotes where she said that multi-culturalism and inter-cultural relationships need to be promoted more to counter racism, and she used her music to celebrate diversity. I truly believe multi-culturalism is the future of our world, and people need to adjust to it because it's only going to progress more and more. I became very passionate about mixing of cultures for many different reasons. One of the reasons being that it would symbolize more unity in the Muslim community, and also in the world. Right now, the Muslim world lacks unity, and to see more inter-cultural marriages would be a good sign for us. Instead of people remaining exclusive about their cultures and languages, why not share them? Maybe this kind of thinking will help us become better human beings too, no?

Ultimately, it all depends on the "L" word, doesn't it? Love has no boundaries. What is True Love? I believe everyone has their own Love story. Some people say that True Love is not real, and it's just a dream. So much goes into Loving a person... it's not Happy and Blissful all the time. There are challenges, there are compromises that must be made, sometimes you have to go through hell with someone and then come back. But I question: Why? Why do things have to be this way, why can't people be happy all the time with one another? My personal belief is that if two people truly believe they are united under God, then they'll live a happy and healthy life. People need to believe that the impossible is possible, people need to be in touch with their feelings, interact more with the Unseen Beauty that surrounds and exists within us, because all these things will help us understand more about who we are.We are currently in the Holy Month of Ramadan now. On this month, the Holy Qur'an was being revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. I probably shouldn't be talking about Romantic Love or Marriages right now, lol, but it's weird how it's not distracting me as much as I thought it would. I attended the Friday prayer today in Paterson, New Jersey, and the Imam was making a speech about eliminating desire, and putting it in shackles. What if my desire is to be at One with God? I understand what he was saying and I know what he was referring to. Spirituality is wholly self-discipline and when one indulges impatiently, he/she is only doing harm to his/herself. The comfort we can find is of course in God, and how He is always forgiving and merciful, but don't use that as a cushion, because He knows what is in your mind and in your heart. If you just go out and indulge, but then say 'it's okay, because I'll just pray for forgiveness," you'll be missing out on the whole point, not to mention the Beauty. Fight with yourself, wage war on the army of your ego. I remember in Pakistan, I learned from an Islamic scholar that God is not telling us to abstain from the joys and pleasures in life, He is simply telling us to fulfill them in a responsible way.

I believe there is so much Love and Passion in the religion of Islam, just like in many other religions, but this side of the faith is rarely spoken of in Orthodox communities.When the fast is broken with a date fruit, it symbolizes how all the patience and struggling was worth the wait. Why do people spend more time preparing food during Ramadan? Because they want to satisfy themselves and their families for the fasting, right? I don't like the word "reward" because I'm always mindful of the famous Sufi, Rabia al-Adawiyyah, and how she said, "I will not serve God like a laborer expecting wages." Don't think of praying or fasting for the sake of getting a reward, or "oh, if I do such and such, I'm going to get a good place in Heaven," instead serve God from your heart and Truthfully. Suppose God didn't give us anything in return, what then? Do we stop worshipping Him? Anything God gives us is out of His Love and Mercy. When two people abstain from shameful acts before marriage, isn't it all worth the wait? You can associate that with how people take so much time and passion in preparing food for the time of fast break.Keep Loving, keep giving. You give to God, He gives to you, it is not "I do for you, you do for me," throw those thoughts out the window, it is simply: it is what it is. It's not expectation, it's not a demand, it is just the way the Universe works. Those who share Love with one another are mirrors to each other. So always smile, because the mirror will smile back :)

Thanks for reading,

~ Jehanzeb