Archive for November, 2009
O lord, who is worthy to hear this subtle secret,
She’s witnessed everywhere, but she has never shown her face!
Words of Hafez, the famous Persian poet who is also given the title “tongue of the unseen”
The veil is meant to protect something from “seeing”. The veil can be thought of as a barrier that limits your sight. What is intended to be seen is hidden. Something prized and something worth waiting for is usually hidden behind the veil and when the time is ripe, it is lifted. Just like a startling stage performance, first the anchor announces and gives a signal to lift the veil, and when proper hype is created, audience see what they came to see. All cannot be “staged” at once, for time is important, but isn’t time itself a veil? Good question! I would say. (lol)
This universe is a veil, and so is everything in it. Just like God’s beauty infuses in every form, His face is hidden behind every veil. The paradox of mercy and wrath would vanish if we start to peep behind the veil, there is no driving force but mercy and there is no beloved, but Him.
“There is nothing real, but the Real!” – Every veil displays His presence; every veil unfolds His signs according to its faculty.
All Veils are He, but no veil is Him. There is no way to see God, but through the veil, and veil always conceals.
In simpler words, He is present in everyone and everything, but no one is Him and nothing can glorify to the level where it can match even a single divine attribute.
He is one, and of every other creation He has created pairs, “Who has created all the pairs of that which the earth produces, as well as their own, male and female, and of that which they know not “– 36:36.
Right and wrong, day and night, cold and warmth, pain and pleasure, happiness and grief, yes and no, ME and HIM, face and the veil, body and soul, brain and heart…and there would be other countless pairs in different forms and interpretations, mercy and wrath, love and hate, peace and war, 0 and 1 (this concept of 0’s and 1’s gave birth to computers, try to find out the story behind its discovery yourself), life and death, this life and hereafter…. And the list goes on.
All of these pairs arouse this paradoxical mentality. They are inseparable to an extent that the other extreme wouldn’t exist or hold a meaning if it weren’t for the other half. What would be days if there weren’t any nights, what pleasure joy would bring if we hadn’t tasted woe. And just like that, self and Lord are intertwined like veil and the face.
Veil is translated as “hijaab” or “ghita”. And in the Holy Book, unveiling “kashf” is mentioned 14 times. 2 times the Almighty used “veil” to separate human beings from Him (42:51, 83:15). The most commonly cited Hadeeth that refers to the veil is “God has 70 veils of light and darkness”. Another occasion, a more reliable Hadeeth says “God’s veil is light”. Here, the paradox is born again. Isn’t light something that enables us to see, e.g you are sitting in a dark room, you wont even be able to see an elephant if it were present there, unless some “light” would illumine your sight.
Paradox is disturbing. It yearns to be discovered, you flip pages of books and try to find what you seek, and here it is. “God is the light of heavens and earth” – 24:35.
If God is the light of heavens and earth, and this light is a veil. Then God makes himself noticed through this light, or the veil. This proves what I said above, He is present in everything and everyone, but nothing and no one is Him.
Mustamli classifies the types of veils as being four: This world, its people, the self and the Satan. This world is a veil to the next, its people are a veil to obedience, self is veil to the Real, and Satan is veil to the religion. As long as these four veils are not lifted, the light of Gnosis will not find a way in.
Bastami cries out “Even if in paradise, something veils me from the vision of Him, I will scream and moan so much that the denizens of hell would feel compassion for me!”
Ali Hajveri, the famous Sufi whose shrine is in Lahore, in his “kashf al-mahjub” – “Unveiling of the veiled” classifies veils as two. One is essential and will be not be lifted, because it is servant’s fundamental inadequacy. Second, is the one that can be lifted. When the prophet says “Die before you die” he refers to the veil which will be lifted “on death” which is mentioned in the Quran.
Seeking to lift the veil, itself is a veil. Niffari points out “O my servant, what are you seeking from me? If you seek what you know, then you are satisfied with the veil. But if you seek what you don’t know, you are seeking the veil!”
And the most compassionate says in the Quran “Where ever you turn is the face of God” – 2:115. Everything that veils Him is in fact His face. All are He, and there is only God’s revelation of Himself, so nothing really exists but Him.
And when the Prophet himself, asks us to pray “ Lord, show us things are they are “ He refers to the veil and the veil that ought to lifted, so that Divine light illumines our existence and things/creations/cosmos micro or macro, start unveiling as His face.
When Lord speaks through Muhammad’s (pbhu) tongue and says “ I was hidden treasure and I LOVE to be known, therefore, I created the universe “. It means the reason for which this universe was designed, the stage set and the veil drawn was to find the hidden treasure.
- Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi
Lieutenant Omer Tirmizi, a young and dynamic individual and a brave solider was posted to Bajaur Agency to counter Taliban insurgency in 2008. He comes from a family of soldiers, who devoted their entire lives to protecting our motherland. Most of the young officers of his age and experience are hesitant to face these highly trained and well equiped barbarians in their home ground, but the day he received his orders of being posted to the war-struck area of Bajaur, he knew he his dream had come true and the reason he was made for will be tested to the core.
I still remember his words when he was about to leave for Bajaur: ” I will be lucky to come back alive, but I dont wish for that luck, I just pray that He gives me the courage and faith to live upto my name, this uniform I wear and the flag that is pasted on my forearm ”
Having known him for years, as a friend and as a brother, I knew he was special and made for “war”. Since the day he left for Bajaur, I started waiting for the “good” news
And the news came, Omer had been critically injured and from fighting the so-called talibs, he was now battling for life. The news got to me when he was being flown in a helicopter to CMH Peshawar, and doctors had informed his retired father and loving mother about his critical condition. ” We would lose him, WE WOULD LOSE HIM ” were the words of the doctor in the air urging the pilot to fly as quickly as possible.
The mother who used to worry about his son’s habit of not taking breakfast and running after him around the house, had lost her senses. Her loved one was battling for life!
The moment of truth had actually passed few hours ago, when he was ordered to lead a team of a few jawans into a talib-controlled stronghold. He being the only officer had to coordinate with his superior as to when to send the Cobras after his team’s mission was accomplished
He lead his brave jawans into the compound, knowing that his enemy were veterans in the field of guerilla warfare, an art of war neither he or his team was trained to counter. They had to adapt to this way of war, in areas their hostiles knew like their own backyards. And so did they! They fought bravely for hours and though overnumbered significantly, with limited ammunition and supply. They managed to distract over 200 talibans and as per their plan, called for backup support of helicopters and artillery shelling but to their surprize were told not to wait for the back-up as the promised support had to be diverted somewhere else.
Moments like these, test the faith of a soldier. Surrounded by enemy, with bullets and rockets hurling past their ears, they could not retrieve. Omer ordered his men to lay down and hide in the fields initially, thinking it would be madness to try and fight in such a situation where death was inevitable. He assembled his men, head to head, laying down in the fields and informed them of the situation.
” This is the moment we were made for, this is the day we were trained for, this is the day our mothers fed us for and this is the moment our fathers prayed for glory! I cannot force you to embrace death, which seems inevitable in this situation, so I beg for your advice. We all have to die, if somehow He wishes to give us some more time, we might end up dying on beds, but we all used to shout back in our training days – that we will not retreat no matter how big the enemy is and live upto the vow of sacrifise we made whilst wearing this uniform.
Listening to these words of their commander, the jawaans without even slightest of utters stood up together and pointed their guns towards the trees their enemies were firing from. Omer had lost his senses, the Nasha of shahadah and the will to defeat these ignorants who had defamed Islam and Pakistan overwhelmed his ability to think. He jumped out of the fields, came in the open ground where there was not even a single inch of earth that was not hit by bullets and rockets.
7 men were now face to face with enemy 20 times more. ” Nayar-e-Haidri ” – was heard amongst the sound of bullets. ” Himmat-e-Marda’n – Madad-e-Khuda ” saw its real interpretation and they saw their enemy falling down from the trees hit by their shots. Some who managed to jump down and moved towards this little army of only a few men, got hit before reaching 10 feet closer and died near their boots damped with blood. Omer saw one of his jawaans leg flying towards him, blood and human flesh plagued his uniform but he still stood strong and kept on reciting the praises to His lord.
Omer was drunk in the wine of martyrdom, he didnot realize he was hit by a sharpnel until he found himself lying in the fields, he felt something in left leg and when he looked, a shower of blood was flowing out. He couldnot see his jawaans, as some of them had been martyred and some had retrieved. He lay alone, in the fields, wounded but still wanting to stand up and fight. Having tried two or three times, he realized that he couldnot move his leg. He heard his enemies coming closer and talking in the local language that they have an officer injured, which meant a lot of money! He had heard stories of them peeling off officer’s skins and disgracing their uniform. He could not let that happen! His hands pierced in his pockets, grabbing a grenade, and waiting for them to come closer so that he could blow himself up. Each second seemed like an hour, the time was moving in slow-mo. They were near now, his grenade’s pin was in his mouth, ready to take it out and kill them, so what if he had died with them! But then “khota” – his favorite jawaan of relatively chubby stature came running towards him alongwith some jawaans who had retrieved, forcing the enemy backwards. “Khota” managed to pick omer and started running towards their base, bullets and rockets passed them by but khota ran like leopard then, and omer still found an element of humor in it .
He was brought to the base, given first aid and was boarded on a helicopter for immediate surgery in CMH Peshawar. He could hear the words of the doctor narrated above ” We would lose him, WE WOULD LOSE HIM ” but now having felt death so closely, his fear of it had vanished.
Omer had undergone several surgeries since then, he is on wheelchair with one leg disabled. And he still says with vigour, ” It was just net practise, the real moment of truth will come again”
His team had managed to kill over 50 insurgents that day, his Commanding Officer had a leg amputated and then lost his life afterwards. Many of his close friends and coursemates have embraced shahadah’
In midst of all the negativity that one witnesses in the country, brave men and women like Omer give us hope. If they are ready to blow themselves them, we have an army of 16 Crore willing to die for the green flag!
Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi
Exalted truth imposed upon us.
Heat and Cold, Grief and Pain.
Terror and weakness of wealth and body.
Together, so that the coin of our inner most being.
Cross and Christians, end to end, i examined. He was not on the Cross. I went to the Hindu Temple, to the ancient pagoda. In none of them there was any sign. To the heights of Herat I went and to Kandhar, I looked. He was not on the elevation not on the low lands.
Resolutely I went to summit of the fabulous mountain of Ka’af. There was only the dwelling of the Anqa bird.I went to Kaaba at Mecca. He was not there. I asked him from Avicenna the philosopher. He was beyond the range of Avicenna, I looked into my own heart. In that place I saw him.
He was in no other place.
Asking good questions is half of learning.
Muhammad (Essential Sufism)
A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey.
Traditional (Essential Sufism)
Whatever you have in your mind – forget it;
Whatever you have in your hand – give it;
whatever is to be your fate – face it!
Abu Sa’id (Essential Sufism)
For every sin but the killing of Time there is forgiveness.
Traditional (Essential Sufism)
If someone remarks: “What an excellent man you are!” and this pleases you more than his saying, “What a bad man you are!” knows that you are still a bad man.
Sufyan al Thawri (Essential Sufism)
A seeker went to ask a sage for guidance on the Sufi way.
The sage counseled,
“if you have never trodden the path of love, go away and fall in love;
then come back and see us.”
Jami (Essential Sufism)
The poet Hafiz wrote
“The sun never says to the earth,
‘You owe me.’
Look what happens with a love like that.
It lights up the whole sky.”
“I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God”.
IF words come out of the heart, they will enter the heart, but if they come from the tongue, they will not pass beyond the ears.
Al-Suhrawardi (Essential Sufism)
Pray for what you want, but work for the things you need.
Modern Traditional (Essential Sufism)
The Thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it.
Bayazid Bistami (Essential Sufism, p. 37)
Happy are those who find fault with themselves instead of finding fault with others.
Muhammad (Essential Sufism)
If men had been forbidden to make porridge of camel’s dung, they would have done it, saying that they would not have been forbidden to do it unless there had been some good in it.
Muhammed (Essential Sufism)
What is done for you – allow it to be done.
What you must do yourself – make sure you do it.
Khawwas (Essential Sufism)
Enlightenment must come little by little-otherwise it would overwhelm.
Whatever we perceive in the world around us tends to reflect who we are and what we care about most deeply, as in the old saying, “When a thief sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets.”
Robert Frager, Heart, Self & Soul, The Sufi Psychology of Growth, Balance and Harmony
We have all had the experience of failing time after time in changing old habits. Then suddenly these old habits lose their hold on us. What was so attractive suddenly becomes unattractive. This is a sign that God has accepted our repentance.
At this point, my sheikh used to say that we are no longer responsible for those old sins. We have truly changed and we are now someone who is not even tempted to commit them.
Robert Frager, Heart, Self & Soul, The Sufi Psychology of Growth, Balance and Harmony p. 71
To hell with global warming, winter has finally arrived. I remember being restless this time of the year, every year, since I met Rose. The belief of rose growing from concrete made me a different person. The blanket wrapping and coffee-making silence gives me time to think, to dive inside of me and to unravel the mysteries of the world that lie inside of me. There is something about winters indeed; the coziness makes my heart hungry and soul warm. The parched lips make me look for water.
Tonight, I think of those whom I left behind in my life, some friends, some acquaintances, and some people whom I dearly loved. Some moments that will never break up with me and make me smile as I think of them. Either I left them behind or time and circumstances made me leave them and move on with life, it doesn’t matter… There were those whom I didn’t leave behind but they left me alone and walked away either in their own path of life or to heavenly abode, but hey! I still cherish the moments I spent with or thinking of you. All that matters is I still remember those dear friends; who were part of my life at some point or the other, either in early childhood days, school days, and college days or even during the stint at PAF Academy, Risalpur. Life after graduation became so busy because of PYA and work that I hardly found anytime for myself. I was missing diving inside of me..
To friends who I grew up with, grew apart and lost touch, to some memories that still continue to live on, still continue to make me laugh and shed tears of joy… One thing memories are good at.
To the random flashes, to friends, to the moments embedded in my brain, to time and to life:
At times I close my eyes to see
The moments that live inside of me
At times my words are void of feel
For words like faces half reveal
On a cozy, moonlit winter night!
I think of those whom I left behind.
Wishing to know how to press rewind;
My body remains glued on bed,
As memories make my soul unrest
On a cozy, moon-lit winter night
Lying beside the fire place,
Dying to live in unknown grace,
Staring at the rising flames,
Trying to link memories with names
On a cozy, moon-lit winter night
Trying to find the inward light
It was dark but now it’s bright
I thank you both, my friend and foe
As you make my winter glow.
On a cozy, moonlit winter night.
Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi
PLASTIC TEARS: An Insight