- in the name of Allah -

One of the most basic essential truths to life I have found is that knowledge carries with it an intrinsic weight. Knowledge is not free. Every grain has the implicit, underlying attribute of how will it be used: to bring about change, to be remembered or forgotten, to be for self-interests or selflessness, all of these are the building blocks which shape how knowledge will affect any particular person. It has the power to bring about positive as well as negative changes, which is maybe the most curious thing I have learned of it. On second thought, this shouldn't be cause for curiosity for me but rather a show of "obviously, duh": a gun in the hands of a criminal does not have the same effect as a gun in the hands of a police officer. The same tool in two different situations serves two very different purposes/implications. But that we can compare knowledge to a gun in any analogy and have it be true, is a disturbing thought. "Knowledge is power", indeed.

Maybe my previous naivete was due to my presupposed inclination to believe that all knowledge was thought of as in itself a good thing, in all situations and circumstances. This formed the basis of many social interactions I had with people where I'd say a specific truth, regardless of the outcomes and without the wisdom to ensure that the truth in question had found a proper home (or wouldn't). It is also true that there's a ton of things human beings learn as they grow older. I've now officially (as of some months back) hit my third decade of existence, so I feel somewhat like an elder statesman in many ways. As the occasion of every cosmic truth I come across happens, it seems to me like it should have been common sense to know this already, to have expected or at least anticipated this realization from any extrapolation of my past experiences. I should have seen it coming (or so I'd like to think). But knowledge of the future is a thing completely unknown to me, even as I try to understand directional flows and ebbs of my own self and all creation. 

So where does this truth sit with me? How will I use it, will it find a proper home, within my soul, or will it precipitate my doom in various, partially unforeseeable, ways? Given some of the tumult I felt in the past few weeks, I might consider the latter. Part of the root of the pain I think is that, when it all boils down to the very last drop, there is only Allah I can discuss this issue with. There's no way for me to know, truly, how any human being would respond to truths like this, whether it might create difficulties and trials for them just as it has for me, maybe in worse or better ways I cannot be sure. I had bottled up my inability to accept some basic facets of existence, opposed in my core their very nature, and all I have to show for this struggle is the inevitable truth that, regardless how I may want otherwise, my own life continues and my soul persists on this plane. That continued existence is not even remotely an accomplishment, if at least we consider (and have always thought) that the taking of one's own life is never a real possibility, then maybe it is merely a non-negative. So, dragging onward through the muck of this self-created sandpit, there is Allah, again, with whom I can speak of this. Admittedly, I am unsure as to what to say. Aside from seeking forgiveness for sins, which is a generally always-fitting state of being, most of my questions seem to want to tap into a divine wisdom I may not have the capacity of grasping. Ironic isn't it? That the lens which seeks to see has not the eyes for its true objective. Still, I will continue to seek it, to try to know that which I do not, and perhaps somewhere down the line, Allah-willing, I can come to *know* the answers to all of these questions.



- in the name of Allah -

Before my most recent preponderances, maybe a few weeks back, I had fairly important realization occur, something I had not truly accepted or understood until that point. Having grown up in America, raised mostly in its schools (few years out of middle school at a private school), picked up on many of its subtle customs and nuances, I had for a long time not truly considered myself part of the country I was born in. Neither did I ever identify myself with my parents' birthplace, so it was a predicament unique to the children of immigrants who are born in foreign lands. Who was I, on that basic level of identity? What place did I call home? 

The answer itself was obvious, America, but I did not realize it until recently. Ironically, as anti-Muslim tensions are growing, in the past month or two, I had a couple moments in my daily routine where strangers (presumably not Muslim) did some small courtesy I totally did not expect. It was then that I felt, even being a different color of skin, even knowing the colonial history of America and its progenitors in Britain and Europe, America deserved to be a place I call home. Thankfully, I do not attribute this to patriotism, an -ism I consider suspect like most other -ism's, rooted in people's fallacies and mental dependency. No, this sense of belonging to my place of birth I could alhamdulillah attribute to the simple facts of the geography of who I am, what language I speak, what root ideals matter to me. America is a place where freedom is precious and equality is sought no matter the situation. Whether that freedom may at times be curtailed, or whether that equality finds its way to every court of law, is a separate issue. But in the core of this place, I too am an americano, a Muslim American who has, who has always had, a place to which I can belong. Granted, I'd rather not belong to any part of this world/dunya at all if I can help it, but as must I continue my existence, so too this truth is evident. 

As a sort of side-note, bigotry and hatred and malevolence are the enemies of all reasonable-minded people across humanity. It is not Islam people should fear, but rather prejudices and ignorance and foolishness they should truly detest. Many people these days are flowing right along with the paranoia and panic, but there's also I think just as many if not more who haven't given in to it. Even in the midst of downpours, one can find the most refreshing of rain. 


- in the name of Allah -

What does one do when the heart goes absent? For as long as I can remember, the ability to feel and convey that emotion to others has been intrinsic to my being. In the past few months, it seems like I've lost it altogether. 

On the one hand, I see some of the dots that connect the fabric of life, how one type of person influences another, how relationships develop and sustain or degrade, how goals and ambitions can give rise to both arrogance and prosperity. I've noticed the tendency of humans to corrupt and be themselves corrupted quite easily, often by the simplest of whims without the slightest of realization. The Quran speaks truthfully when this life is described as a test. Alas for me that I had no choice when applying for this particular exam. Not only does this fact always grate on my soul, but it is that the very nature of the questions themselves in just about every circumstance are stacked and weighted against the test-taker I find abominable. The irony is overwhelmingly palpable and choking that Islam as such a beautiful religion considers so highly of justice, yet this physical existence so rarely presents it in due proportion. This dichotomy of what is versus what should be has been the bane of my adult life, and probably my youth too had I known of it then. I suppose most Muslims can reconcile the fact that there is so little justice here with the reality of a day of Reckoning, where everything is to be repaid its due. That makes sense. However I cannot escape the sentiment many human beings have in our short lifespans that 'justice delayed is justice denied'. I cannot help but think that in the equation of our lives, human beings are the biggest losers. Caught in the ever-pervasive war between good and evil, humanity seems only to be the pawns on a chessboard in a game only we seem to be ignorant of. Every action we make carries with it consequences of good or ill, most of which escape our notice because our foresight rarely exceeds the scope of our eyes. Yet here we are, humanity as a whole, thrust into a devil's playground (literally, since the moment of our creation), given in a physical sense the barest of means, commanded and expected to survive the taint while at the same time not giving in to the ever-present notions of escape or defeatism or hedonism or narcissism or most any other -ism one could conceive. Our nature so often works against us, yet there is mentioned our 'fitrah' or innate sense of goodness that is supposed to help be a guide for every individual. 

The fact that part of human nature is to be controlled or suppressed while at the same time another part is to be embraced and relished I find absolutely mind-boggling. When we take a piece of the human being's pie, do we get to choose whether to take only the slice on the left, or the slice on the right, or the part in the middle, or only the crust? No, not at all. Human beings are a resultant sum of their natures, nothing more, nothing less. Of myself, I cannot fathom taking only a part of me while not taking another. To respect a nature, it cannot be divided up into pieces like some cardboard, no matter how unseemly in the eyes of creation. Often I have tried to understand my Creator, but often my blindness overwhelms (there's that word again) me. I try to arrive at the most basic truth for all humanity, but at the end of every reduced metaphysical equation, the only side I can see is that humanity is enduring a trial that, for the most part, it will invariably lose. No matter when good wins or evil wins, human beings still persist in this life that tries its very hardest to see us destroyed. And the most insidious part of it is, this destruction doesn't always come in the most obvious form, like say death or loss of family/property/etc. No, the worst kind of destruction often happens in the most imperceptible of ways, such as might precipitate a moral decline while at the same time appearing healthy in every way. We can merrily walk in the footsteps of our own doom while realizing nothing of the true nature of our actions. In a state like this, human beings become lower than animals. 

One might ask, 'is there hope?'. Yes, there is always hope so long as life remains. But it is not the issue of hope (or lack thereof) that eats away at me. It is the nature of the very container we're placed in, a container that continues to suffocate me while still I seek little substance from it. The tools for self-destruction every person has easy access to, while the path to salvation is maybe the most slipperiest and hardest thing to grasp I have ever perceived. Again, it all seems so perfectly woven as a plot against humanity, that not only do our own selves conspire against us, such as when fear or panic leading to previously un-thought results, but the whole of the world around us seems almost to conspire in the same way. The forces of entropy seem always so vast limitless, while the forces of order and sanity always the most scattered.

It is in a world like this that I cannot see for myself a place to truly belong. And so, for the ones who want to see me and talk to me and be close with me, I cannot reach back. Every illusion I might have had about this life is long since shattered, and I have not the gusto in my soul to even try painting another dream from those ashes.