“No Problem. Consider it done.”
And with these seemingly innocuous words, my misadventure began.
My brother-in-law (BIL) back in the states needed money transferred to a hotel agent in Jeddah for Ramadan reservations he had made. Seeing that I have a local bank account in Saudi, my BIL figured it easier and quicker for me to do it.
I naively assumed the same.
When he asked, I was preparing to leave for Pakistan the following night. No big deal, I thought, I’ll make the transfer from home via my Internet banking account.
And so the problems began:
1. It took me an hour to get online that night. No DSL over here on our compund, I connect using my cell phone network.
2. Once I connected, although I was able to get to my bank’s site, Gmail refused to load. I needed the hotel agent’s bank account info which was in an email sent by BIL.
3. After another 30 minutes of failing to load Gmail, I logged onto Gmail using my cellphone. Oh yeah! Me da man! I pulled down the bank account info and logged back onto my bank’s site using my PC.
4. However, my stupid bank doesn’t allow transfer of funds to new beneficiaries until a 24-hour period has passed. Shoot! Gonna have to finish this up in Pakistan tomorrow. No problemo, they have web access over there.
5. Once I settled down in Pakistan (outside Gujrat, between the city and the villages), I found out my cousin’s laptop wasn’t working. However, they had an older laptop that’s slow as molasses, but good enough to work.
6. First attempt at logging on to Web went smoothly, but I accidentally pulled the power cable and the laptop powered off. When I tried to reconnect to the ISP, the username and password wasn’t authenticating. We called their helpdesk, they said the Gujrat area is going through technical problems. Odd, cause I was just able to connect 5 minutes ago right before I lost power.
7. We went to my father’s clinic right outside the house to try his desktop PC. We logged on fine to the same ISP using different username/password – so much for their technical problems. Now, I had to install some software (MS Java and special bank certificate) to access my account info. Dial-up kept disconnecting, but after an hour or so, PC was setup and connected to my bank.
8. However, now my bank username and password weren’t working. Subhan’Allah. I’m starting to think this simply is not meant to be.
9. I called my bank’s support in Saudi and over a phone connection that dropped two or three times, they suggested some changes. When I settled down in front of the PC, I took a deep breath of frustration, having exhausted over three hours in this effort, and proceeded to make the changes. Bam! Electricity goes out. Loadshedding! #$%^!&*
10. It was 9:30pm, time for Isha so I called it a night. Knowing that he required the funds by today (Wednesday), I made a phone call to the hotel agent and promised him that I WILL make the transfer the following morning, rest assured.
11. Following morning, I got onto PC and noticed some strange behavior (that I had missed the previous night). When I logged on to the internet, lots of data was being uploaded before I even opened my browser. I looked at the processes running in the background and I noticed winlogon.exe using over 400MB of memory. Tell-tale signs of a virus. Just great!
12. Deciding that I’m not getting onto my bank with a virus on the PC, I asked my dad’s assistant to get some anti-virus software. No problem, he says. Will do so in the afternoon, after work.
13. At 3pm, he brought two CD’s with all sorts of utilities, including good ‘ol McAfee. I installed and ran the anti-virus program. It cleaned all sorts of viruses. Cool, I think, let’s get this show on the road. When I tried to connect to the Internet, I got a series of unending Dr. Watson errors. When I tried to open my browser, Windows crashed. I restarted Windows, nothing. The combination of the virus and the AV software screwed up XP.
14. But hey, I still have my cousin’s old laptop. I sent the assistant to get a new ISP card (since the problem with that laptop was wrong username/password) while I ran to get the laptop. When I powered it on, Windows XP was locked out due to expiration of the activation period. Asked my cousin and he says yeah, we just installed this illegal copy of XP last week or so. Gee, thanks.
15. I went back to my dad’s hosed PC and boot up in safe mode to try and fix it. After an hour or so, Mr. Loadshedding makes his visit. Aaaaargh! @#$%^&*!
16. 6pm and time to face the facts. I ain’t transferring the money.
17. I called a friend back in Saudi to help me out. He didn’t have the funds. I called another friend who says no prob. I sent him hotel agent’s account info.
18. However, when he tried to transfer the funds, the bank said the name of the agent isn’t complete. They need a full name.
19. We tried for several hours to get through to agent. Finally, when I got through, he admits to having some phone problems (gee, how convenient for me). I got my friend to contact him to get full information.
20. Phew! Finally, everything’s done.
21. Hour later, I got a text message from friend. Bank rep says bank system is down, will not be able to transfer money until day after tomorrow (Sat. morning). Tomorrow was Friday, closed for Juma’a.
22. Ya Allah!
My father, who had been a sympathetic onlooker throughout this whole fiasco, had overheard my conversation with the agent (#10 above) and noted that not once had I said Insha’Allah. He reminded me that I was adamant in assuring him that I would get the funds to him without once uttering the name of Allah.
And it was then I remembered my quick email reply to my BIL – ‘No problem. Consider it done.’
So petty, yet so devastating.
I countered my father that my belief in Allah was implied in my declarations. Of course I acknowledge that Allah (swt) controls everything and not a single leaf falls without His permission. He is the sole Master and Maintainer of the universe, without doubt. Must I necessarily vocalize it with an ‘Insha’Allah’ appended to every sentence?
In fact, I detest this habit found all throughout the Muslim world, where Insha’Allah is recklessly used in place of ‘I really don’t want to do it, but I’ll say yes and then add Insha’Allah afterwards, thereby releasing me of any accountability.’
However, when I thought back to the instance when the Prophet (saw) was reprimanded by Allah (swt) for not having said Insha’Allah (in sura Kahf), surely our beloved Prophet hadn’t lost sight of Allah’s Omnipotence.
Yet, the lesson was clear. Never forget that everything happens by Allah’s permission.
That spoon of food in your hand will not enter your mouth without His permission.
Your eyelids will not blink shut without His permission. Nor will they blink open without His permission.
Your car will not get you to your desired destination without His permission.
That medicine will not cure your sickness without His permission.
The walls of your home will not remain standing without His permission.
And NEVER, EVER forget that you will NEVER, EVER transfer funds without His permission.
I thank Allah (swt) for having taught me this lesson in a way only He could have. The fact that He (swt) put me through these difficulties as a means of correcting my oversight assures me that He (swt) loves me. Warts and all.
I just wish all my mistakes could be so gently corrected. Sigh.
Monday, August 25, 2008
“No Problem. Consider it done.”
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I wanted to share some thoughts on my dear brother Abu Sinan's recent blog post regarding the status of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). He took offense to the extreme acts of veneration that some Muslims practice when it comes to our beloved Prophet (saw).
I find it disconcerting that any act of love directed towards our Prophet (saw) can be considered extreme or unwarranted.
I wonder if true love ought to have limits. After all, this is a love which places the beloved (saw) of Allah (swt) above all other loves we may nurture in our hearts:
We were with the Prophet and he was holding the hand of 'Umar bin Al-Khattab. 'Umar said to Him, "O Allah's Apostle! You are dearer to me than everything except my own self." The Prophet said, "No, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is, (you will not have complete faith) till I am dearer to you than your own self." Then 'Umar said to him, "However, now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self." The Prophet said, "Now, O 'Umar, (now you are a believer)." (Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 78, Hadith 628)
This is not some intellectual love that is cultivated by dry calls to 'follow the sunnah'.
This irrepressible infatuation is built on loving a man whom Allah (swt) and His angels are constantly praising and blessing.
This deep-seated obsession is built on my tears born from the pained look on his face when I will be called to account for my sins.
This uncontainable zeal is built on his blood-filled shoes as he was run out of Taif, for attempting to spread the message of Islam so it could eventually arrive to *me*.
This uncontrollable passion is built on his flowing tears that dampened his beard in his nightly vigil, praying for *me* so I could be guided back to Allah (swt).
I would sacrifice my father, my mother, and my self for you, Ya Rasul-Allah!
Abu-Sinan writes: "Mohammed was a Prophet, the last of many before him, but like all of the Prophets he was a man, nothing more. To worship or venerate supposed items of his go over a line that no Muslim should cross."
Really? What then should we make of episodes in our history where his companions crossed over said line?
Urwa returned to his people and said, "O people! By Allah, I have been to the kings and to Caesar, Khosrau and An-Najashi, yet I have never seen any of them respected by his courtiers as much as Muhammad is respected by his companions. By Allah, if he spat, the spittle would fall in the hand of one of them (i.e. the Prophet's companions) who would rub it on his face and skin; if he ordered them, they would carry out his order immediately; if he performed ablution, they would struggle to take the remaining water; and when they spoke, they would lower their voices and would not look at his face constantly out of respect." (Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 50, Number 891)
If such actions were to be carried out in this day and age, accusations of Kufr and Shirk would fly recklessly (note: Abu Sinan, may Allah reward him, explicitly mentioned that he was making no such accusations, but the truth remains that many others would). Yet these blessed companions carried out these very acts in front of the Prophet (saw).
And their love carried over to the relics and belongings of the Prophet, including his hair which he himself distributed, as well as his sweat which he allowed to be collected.
Anas b. Malik (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to Mina; he went to the Jamra and threw pebbles at it, after which he went to his lodging in Mina, and sacrificed the animal. He then called for a barber and, turning his right side to him, let him shave him; after which he trimmed his left side. He then gave (these hair) to the people. (Muslim, Book 007, Number 2991)
Anas said, "Um Sulaim used to spread a leather sheet for the Prophet and he used to take a midday nap on that leather sheet at her home." Anas added, "When the Prophet had slept, she would take some of his sweat and hair and collect it (the sweat) in a bottle and then mix it with Suk (a kind of perfume) while he was still sleeping." When the death of Anas bin Malik approached, he advised that some of that Suk be mixed with his Hanut (perfume for embalming the dead body), and it was mixed with his Hanut. (Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 74, Number 298)
Truly we do not understand how to love the Prophet (saw). We rationalize it. We intellectualize it. We confine it. We restrict it.
Out of a misplaced fear of deifying him (saw)? A fear that he himself (saw) never vocalized when the companions pushed the limits of love. The Companions would compete for the remnants of his ablution water in order to put it on their faces. They would drink from water he spit out of his blessed mouth. In fact, he encouraged such 'blasphemous' actions, actions that we in our preposterous arrogance would frown upon in this day and age:
Allah's Apostle came to us at noon and water for ablution was brought to him. After he had performed ablution, the remaining water was taken by the people and they started smearing their bodies with it (as a blessed thing). The Prophet offered two Rakat of the Zuhr prayer and then two Rakat of the 'Asr prayer while an 'Anza (spear-headed stick) was there (as a Sutra) in front of him. Abu Musa said: The Prophet asked for a tumbler containing water and washed both his hands and face in it and then threw a mouthful of water in the tumbler and said to both of us (Abu Musa and Bilal), "Drink from the tumbler and pour some of its water on your faces and chests." (Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 187)
Is this the love of a sane people? Not by our modern-day standards. Truly they were madly in love with this Mercy to the worlds.
Sadly, we have lost our orientation on how to properly love the Prophet (saw). Our compass is broken, yet we insist we aren't lost. Our hearts are blinded, yet we insist our eyes are sufficient for this journey.
Dear reader, he (saw) was no mere man and his blessed companions acknowledged this, time and again:
`Uthman bin `Abd Allah ibn Mawhab said, "My people sent me with a bowl of water to Umm Salama." Isra'il approximated three fingers indicating the small size of the container in which there was some hair of the Prophet. `Uthman added, "If any person suffered from evil eye or some other disease, he would send a vessel (containing water) to Umm Salama (and she would dip the Prophet's hair into it and it would be drunk). I looked into the container (that held the hair of the Prophet) and saw a few reddish hairs in it." (Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 784)
Narrated Ibn Sirrn: I said to 'Ablda, "I have some of the hair of the Prophet which I got from Anas or from his family." 'Abida replied. "No doubt if I had a single hair of that it would have been dearer to me than the whole world and whatever is in it." (Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 171)
Again, I humbly ask those who claim that certain lines mustn't be crossed in our reverence for our dear Prophet (saw), did the companions cross those lines?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
It's not enough that America is dumping on Pakistan as the breeding ground for Al-Qaeda supporters.
It's not enough that Afghanistan is dumping on Pakistan for allowing Taliban forces to regularly crossover their shared border.
It's not enough that India and Afghanistan are both dumping on Pakistan for having been behind the July 7 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.
It's not enough that NATO is dumping on Pakistan for supporting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
Now there's talk that Pakistan has a role in the recent Muslim separatist flare-up in western China.
Well on the bright side, Musharraf's gonna get impeached and the Pakistani team's got a chance of medaling at the Olympics in field hockey.
Oh wait, they just got dumped on by UK.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
It's become quite evident to even the most casual of observers that post-Taliban Afghanistan has become a miserable failure. Life for the normal Afghani is the same, if not worse. The economy is in shambles, the drug-trade is thriving, the US-puppet government has barely a hold on Kabul and a few other cities, and peace is only found in the barrel of the gun.
And then I read this story on the increasing occurrences of rape, most of which are carried out without any fear of retribution or criminal punishment.
And then I think to myself, as a father of a 10-yr old daughter, that I would rather keep my daughter holed up in my house than send her to school or work in such a lawless society.
I would happily give up these rights for the general security the Taliban had established, knowing that her trip to the local market would not end up with this most miserable of endings.
I would happily live under the 'backwards' life under Taliban rule, where my family's well-being is preserved than the 'civilized' life under US/Karzai rule, where uncontrollable beasts run the streets.
Critics (legitimately) scolded the Taliban for their oppressive ways (forcing the burqa and the beard, destroying Buddhist artifacts, shutting down girls schools, etc.), while conveniently turning a blind eye to the security and order they established in war-torn Afghanistan.
But have they provided anything better in the past 7 years?
Since when are the issues of women's rights and religious freedom even comparable to fundamental concerns for safety and security?
As lofty as their goals may have been for invading Afghanistan, they've really turned it into a cesspool of crime and corruption. Just like in Iraq, they failed to establish the most basic of societal needs – public safety. (Be sure to check out this 3-part documentary Five Years in Iraq)
I don't care to defend the Taliban, but it seriously makes my blood boil when I read articles like the CNN piece I linked above.
Sure, Afghanistan under Taliban rule was a pile of garbage, but that beats the pile of shit the US has turned it into.
I say they pack up their bags and hand the country back to the Taliban, if for no other reason but to bring back some semblance of order. Sure, the public may despise the mullahs for forcing them to wear burqas and closing down the music shops, but at least their women will be able to walk the streets without getting abducted.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Wait, did you just ask what the hell is wrong with *ME*?!
OK, lemme get this straight.
You glue your fat butt to the couch and watch TV for hours on end.
You look forward to the weekends to waste them away socializing, watching movies, shopping, and what not.
You surf the web, spending countless hours of your life on YouTube, BBC, and your stupid blog.
You associate with heathens who are engrossed in this world as much as your sorry self.
And you call me a joke?!
You talk endlessly as if your tongue will dry up in the absence of your constant blabber.
You laugh incessantly as if your teeth will cease to exist if not fully displayed.
You eat obsessively as if your stomach will shrivel unless kept constantly full.
You sleep passionately as if your bed will disown you for leaving it in the night.
And then you censure me for feeling distant from my Creator, coldness towards His Word, and heaviness in prayer?
Yeah, and *I'm* the ignoramus.
I am merely a reflection of your actions, your thoughts, your senses, and your environment.
Only a fool would blame a spoiled child whose father has consistently caved into his every juvenile outburst with nary a disciplinary action. Sure, I admit I'm that spoiled child, but guess who's that foolish father? (hint: it rhymes with the letter U)
When did you ever once discipline me?
When did you ever muzzle my cravings?
When did you ever throttle my insatiable appetite?
For my entire life, you have set me up for failure and now you dare reproach me?!
Sheesh. What a friggin' loser.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
What the hell is wrong with you?!
You need a serious kick in the rear end.
When's the last time you woke up for tahajjud, that most sincere mode of direct and solemn communication with your Creator?
That's ok dude, I already know. I won't embarrass you.
Ramadan is around the corner – when was the last time you fasted a volunteer fast?!
You pranced around all proud of yourself for having completed reciting the entire Quran last Ramadan, but what have you done in the 10 months since?
You pompous ignoramus.
You claim to worship Allah alone, but the idols of personal whims and worldly desires are firmly established in you, having gained top priority.
You aspire for a polished heart, but you fear the abrasive nature of the Prophetic sand-paper.
You claim to love your 'Beloved', but remain ignorant of his sublime character and temperament.
What a joke!
You are ever so sensitive to the slightest breach of your rights, while boorishly stomping on the rights of others.
You hold such low opinions of those around you, chastising them for the most trivial of missteps, while overlooking your own colossal blunders.
When will you wise up to your shortcomings?
You pray as though you're releasing a burden, saving your passion for other fickle endeavors.
You recite the Quran as though you're in a race to get it over with.
You feed your anger instead of feeding the poor.
Your eyes wander recklessly, showing no control, like some wild boar.
Your tears flow more freely for a cheesy film than for your egregious faults.
In the hierarchy of your love, Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) lie somewhere between your children and their breakfast cereals.
Your ugliness knows no bounds. You make me sick.
Disappointed, Disturbed, and Disgusted,