Saturday, September 23, 2006

My Car & My Faith

I have a Citroen C5, which is a car I really love. It is big inside, and totally comfortable and quiet. It does not look flashy and fancy, but I like her understated elegance. I chose it because I feel it reflects what a car should be to me. It is powerful, well made, sophisticated, asthetic and yet simple in appearance, unimposing, unextravagant. Great on the inside but simple on the outside. Sort of Sufistic. Most people look and say, "Citroen? Why? I've heard all sorts of bad things about it. And for that price, you could get something better, more popular. Japanese or German". It is almost like they are talking about my choice of religion, not car. I then realised that it does have a parallel with religion. Being a Muslim is equally not about following the crowd and opinion of others. It is about looking beyond the externals and trappings. It is an experience that is personal to the believer. Like why my car is so special to me. I like the way she feels, the smell of her leather, the way the mahogany wood lines the interior understatedly, the unobtrusive gadgets and most of all, the silence of the ride coupled with the best suspension system in the world. It emphasises the experience than the show, how the car presents itself to its driver, and not to the world. I have come to an age when I realise that the external manifestations of religion are as meaningless to the believer as the outside look of the car is. It is how the religion affects the believer internally that is important, after all that is the main purpose of religion, isnt it? The driver, not the passerby, is more important in the case of a car. In the past, in my eagerness to judge people by their externals - no tudung, doesnt pray correctly, - or their "brand" - infidel, modernist, fundamentalist - I forget that I am just judging books by their covers, and then burning them all.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Seduction of the Tree

But Satan whispered evil to him: he said, "O Adam! shall I lead thee to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that never decays?" In the result, they both ate of the tree, and so their nakedness appeared to them: they began to sew together, for their covering, leaves from the Garden: thus did Adam disobey his Lord, and allow himself to be seduced.

The Walled Garden of Truth

Hope and fear drive fortune from your door;
lose yourself, and they will be no more.

At his door, what is the difference
between Muslim and Christian,
virtuous or guilty?
At his door all are seekers
and he the sought.

God is without cause;
why are you looking for causes?
The sun of truth rises unbidden,
and with it sets the moon of learning.

In this halt of but a week,
to be is not to be,
and to come is to go.

And does the sun exist
for the cock to crow at?
What is it to him
whether you are there or not?
Many have come, just like you,
to his door.

You won't find your way
in this street; if there is a way,
it is on your road of sighs.
All of you are far
from the road of devotion:
you are like donkeys,
straying for months and years,
deluded by vain hopes;
sometimes you are virtuous,
sometimes you are wicked:
so you hope for yourselves, fear for yourselves;
but when your mask of wisdom and folly
at last turns white, you will see
that hope and fear are one.

~ Hakim Sanai, 1130 AD