Monday, March 01, 2010

A good article in conjunction with MaulidulRasul 1431H

From Islamicity:

A journey of exploration, leading to Islam

I became a Muslim when it seemed I had already accepted Islam in my bones, as if beyond choice, and I only had to make a leap to embrace it formally. Outwardly I was content; inwardly I was coasting. My three year old theatre company was disbanded after a hilariously chaotic production for a Tim Leary Benefit at the Family Dog in San Francisco, circa '68 Ð naturally, the orange juice everyone had passed around was spiked, so that the chorus members were doing the final scene in the first ten minutes Ð and for six months I had been typing out poetry manuscripts in my attic in Berkeley preparatory to a big publishing push.

I considered myself a Zen Buddhist, but I was other things as well. My normal routine was to get up, sit zazen, smoke a joint, do half an hour of yoga, then read the Mathnawi of Rumi, the long mystical poem of that great Persian Sufi of the thirteenth century.

Then I met the man who was to be my guide to our teacher in Morocco, Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, may Allah be pleased with him. At first, the meeting was simply remarkable, and my guide a simply a remarkable man. But soon our encounter was to become extraordinary, leading to a revolution in my life from which I have never recovered, and never hope to.

The man looked like an eccentric Englishman. He too had only recently come out of the English version of the Hippie Wave. He was older, refined in his manners, spectacularly witty and intellectual, but of that kind prevalent then who had hobnobbed with the Beatles and knew the Tantric Art collection of Brian Jones firsthand. He had been on all the classic drug quests Ð peyote in the Yucatan, mescaline with Laura Huxley Ð but with the kif quest in Morocco, he had stumbled on Islam, and then the Sufis, and the game was up. A profound change had taken place in his life that when far beyond the psychedelic experience.

It is hard to put forward any kind of explanation of Islam, to try to suggest the beauty of its totality, through the medium of words. The light of Islam, since it is transformational and alchemical in nature, almost always comes via a human messenger who is a transmitter of the picture by his very being.

For the three days following our meeting, two other Americans and I listened in awe as this magnificent storyteller unfolded the picture of Islam, of the perfection of the Prophet Muhammad, and of the 100 year old plus Shaykh, sitting under a great fig tree in a garden with his disciples, singing praises of Allah. It was everything I'd always dreamed of. It was poetry come alive. It was the visionary experience made part of daily life, with the Prophet a perfectly balanced master of wisdom and simplicity, an historically accessible Buddha, with a mixture of the earthiness of Moses, the otherworldliness of Jesus, and a light all his own.

The prophetic knowledge our guide talked about was a kind of spiritual existentialism. It was a matter of how you enter a room, which foot you entered with, that you sipped water but gulped mild, that you said "bismillah" (In the name of Allah) before eating or drinking, and "alhamdulillah" (Praise be to Allah) afterwards, and so on. But rather than seeing this as a burden of hundreds of "how-to's", it was more like what the LSD experience taught us, that there is a "right" way to do things that has, if you will, a cosmic resonance. It is a constant awareness of courtesy to the Creator and His creation that in itself ensures and almost visionary intensity.

It is hard to put forward any kind of explanation of Islam, to try to suggest the beauty of its totality, through the medium of words. The light of Islam, since it is transformational and alchemical in nature, almost always comes via a human messenger who is a transmitter of the picture by his very being.

Face to face with our guide, what struck us most was his impeccable, noble behavior. He seemed to be living what he was saying. Finally, the moment came, as a surprise, when he confronted me with my life. "Well," he said one morning after three full days of rapturous agreement that what he was bringing us was the best thing we'd ever heard. "What do you think? Do you want to become a Muslim?"

I hedged. "It's the most beautiful thing I've heard about so far. After all my Zen Buddhism, all my yoga, Tibetan Buddhism and Hindu gurus, this is certainly it! But I think I would like to travel a little, see the world, go to Afghanistan (then unoccupied), maybe meet my Shaykh in a mountain village far off somewhere."

"That's not good enough. You have to decide now. Yes or no. If it's yes, then we start on a great adventure. If it's no, then no blame, I've done my duty. I'll just say goodbye and go on my way. But you have to decide now. I'll go downstairs and read a magazine and wait. Take your time."

When he had left the room I saw there was no choice. My whole being had already acquiesced. All my years up to that moment simply rolled away. I was face-to-face with worship of Allah, wholly and purely, with the Path before me well-trodden, heavily sign posted, with a guide to a Master plunk in front of me. Or I could reject all of this for a totally self-invented and uncertain future.

It was the day of my birthday, just to make it that much more dramatic. I chose Islam.

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore was born in 1940 in Oakland, California. His first book of poems, Dawn Visions, was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books, San Francisco, in 1964, and the second in 1972, Burnt Heart / An Ode to the War Dead. He became a Sufi Muslim in 1970, performed the Hajj in 1972, and has lived and traveled throughout Morocco, Spain, Algeria and Nigeria, landing in California and publishing The Desert is the Only Way Out, and Chronicles of Akhira. Living in Philadelphia since 1990, in 1996 he published The Ramadan Sonnets, and in 2002 a new book of poems with Syracuse University Press, The Blind Beekeeper. He is also widely published on the worldwide web: The American Muslim, DeenPort, and his own website: among others


Thursday, February 25, 2010

O Fresh Milk....

I MISSED downing semi-skimmed milk back in the UK!!!


The article from DailyMail:

After the bottle of milk and the carton, now comes the bag of milk.

The new containers are being introduced to 500 Sainsbury’s stores in a move that could finally end the 130-year reign of the milk bottle and its plastic successors.

Each two-pint container will be priced at 80p, which is 6p cheaper than an average carton.

milk in a bag

It is designed to fit easily into a reuseable jug, which contains a spike to pierce it open.

The product uses 75 per cent less packaging than a plastic carton and is easier and cheaper to produce and transport.

In fact, switching to the bags could save 1.4million kilos of packaging a year – equivalent to 700 doubledecker buses.

Sainsbury’s spokesman Emma Metcalf King said: ‘This is the biggest change to occur to the nation’s shopping habits for at least a decade.

‘The familiar clink of the glass milk bottle could finally become a thing of the past. ‘The bags will prove to be a huge hit with environmentally aware shoppers, as well as those on a tight budget.’

The new bags of milk will be 6p cheaper than a normal plastic bottle

The new bags of milk will be 6p cheaper than a normal plastic bottle

It is not the first time bags have been used for milk packaging, however. Thirty years ago, dairies in Essex tried and failed to encourage them.

Havoc was caused by packs which leaked in transit, while shoppers found the bags were punctured by the packaging on other products.

More recently, Dairy Crest, the Co-op, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s itself have also run trials.

But today’s move by the supermarket giant, which is giving away half a million milk bags to customers in April, follows a successful 18-month trial at its stores.

After years of rigorous tests, manufacturers believe they have developed a milk bag able to withstand being bashed about in a car boot or on a crowded bus.

And consumers are more likely to take to them this time round because they are far more conscious of green issues such as the carbon footprint, supporters of the technology suggest.

A spokesman for the Government’s waste and packaging advisory body, WRAP, said: ‘What is important in any type of milk container, whether it’s a glass bottle, a pouch or a plastic bottle is increasing recycled content and making it easier to recycle.’

Bottles have been the preferred milk container in Britain since 1880 when they were introduced by the Express Dairy Company. They were dominant until the 1970s, before losing favour to Tetra Pak cardboard containers.

Britons consume around 180million pints of milk a week. Two-thirds are sold in plastic bottles, which have been the preferred container since the early 1990s.

Milk sold in bags is already a common choice for 60 per cent of consumers in Canada, Poland, South Africa and China.

Monday, February 01, 2010

What did I miss

I had to lock myself in the house literally speaking today as the internal lock in my main wooden door (enter-exit) broken somehow. I can still leave the house through other exit like from the back of the kitchen or through the sliding door grilles. But it felt odd. I have called a repairman to come over my place on monday afternoon to fix it, and if it needed a new lock, then so be it, better to replace it soon then i reckon.

I was hooked on the Astro sport channel today most of the time apart from watching " Casablanca" in between on TV2 earlier. It was indeed a good movie considering that it was made during WW2 and it was actually my 1st time really got to watch most part of the movie. Bogey (Humphrey Bogart) really put that "here's looking at u kid" quote in my mind and it just kept replaying on and on. I guess i was just amazed at how good actually that movie and how funny in a wry way Bogey was. I only managed to watch him in his other movie "Sabrina" (the original make) and how deep the impact he left me. He wasnt really a looker or anything like that, not that he's all plain either. He just had this charisma of a great actor of his time. No wonder Lauren Bacall his wife never stopped swooning over him , how she can never let go of her moments with him despite his demise for nearly 5 decades.

Roger Federer won his 16th Grand Slam today too at Australian Open 2010. I had the opportunity to "wander" outside the Rod Laver stadium, Melbourne where the venue was back in sept 2007. He defeated Andy Murray in a straight set. This time he wasnt doing his all famous watershed but Andy did shed some tears. That was the 2nd time they met on a grand slam final, the 1st one was at the US Open 2008. Andy did have some advantage over Fed as in he has 6-4 winning record throughout their meeting but Fed prevailed yet again in the Grand Slam final. Not only that, he also managed to win back the AO having lost to his another famous rival, Rafael Nadal. The latter called for match retirement during his QF match against Murray. That match saw Murray already leading by 2 sets.

Serena Williams also won her 5th AO beating a former champion Justine Henin on 2-1 sets. Williams bagged another winning trophy from women's double playing side by side with her big sister Venus. That would be like a commiseration for Venus who lost during QF to Na Li, who then lost to Serena in SF. One thing for sure, once she and Fed reached the semis, i have already hoped and predicted that it would be Fed and Serena to win. And i was spot on. Double spot on!

Egypt won their African Cup Nation again too defeating Ghana by 1-0 in Angola. I was beaming with pride for my other half Nation. They deserved this win, truly, after what all that bloody commotion happened during their 1st round match with Algeria last december 2009. Good thing they trashed them algerian by 4-0 in the semi en route to final.

I just had my sahur, thats basically day 01 for the replacement fasting of Ramadhan last year. This is already into the 2nd month of the Hijriyah and the next ramadhan is like another 7 months away or so. Its ummm quite unfortunate that I had to replace a LOT of days really and so its gonna be another "big" feat to do all the missing days but I will have to no matter what. Its an obligation and its compulsory.

Blogging also has slowed down quite substantially since the last quarter of 2009. It gets so much simpler writing a few things on Facebook. I'd usually leave a few updates and my whereabouts there too. Though of course i could write more in the blog but i just cant be arsed spending time writing that much when most of my thoughts are frequently aired on FB.

I also miss London. I dunno why. When i saw movies like Bridget Jones Diary and Love Actually, everything there looked very very very familiar. Somehow there's almost not much of a "friendly" flirt here in malaysia, though I do get occassional passes and so on. I know them guys prolly think it wasnt appropriate to be that direct or so but they can be so damn stupid not taking such oppportunity to do so. Yea sure some chinese (msian and he's cute too) fella just like to stand soooo close to me while explaining about things on car at the workshop and some few other malaysian fellas dared enough to be little bit more friendly but that was it. I had a LOT more passes when i was in India, Egypt, Syria and England (to name a few countries i have visited last year) than I had in msia for the past 3 years. Are Malaysian guys so bloody slow and dimwit or what? Or that I gave them a wrong indication and wrong aura or what? I think thats prolly one of the reasons why I miss london (and other places, travelling) so much. Malaysian men and Manal Ismail prolly dont gel that well in the attraction department. Or perhaps they think i am married hence no point getting into trouble approaching me? As in there was one time when i was in sabah last year and i was almost getting interrogated on my marital status when they read in the form i wrote as single. They asked me how come a woman this beautiful like me can be single. Surely at least it was due to divorce or something or that I DO have a boyfriend, or the least would be that I am engaged.

And maybe perhaps i dont go out that much?

Just when i stop hoping but praying nonetheless for my future endeavours, one of my aunts in cairo introduced me to her office mate. He was smitten by me the 1st time he saw me. And few days before that, i went to Irbid , Jordan, visiting my 5th sister there with my mum and my old flame came over to see me there. He clearly has feelings for me still yet he needed to sort out his issues and himself too.

I think of my other old flame in london too. Saw him in my dream a couple of nights ago but he didnt really even look at me at all. He looked well, and i was happy for him. Although i think he wasnt prepared to face me. Its just too painful , too awkward to talk to someone whom u had had a very deep meaningful relationship only to end up due to some silly issues. But i think its for the best. I dont think I wanna be part of his family and he prolly deserved his own kind. Maybe he;'s married now, i dunno. Where ever he is now, I hope he's doing fine and if destiny had it, we may cross each other's path once again. I dont mind having him as friend. He is still in my FB friends list to say the least.

May this year 2010 be a much better one to me,and I wanna keep on persevere and be a better person too. And i wanna achieve more in life.