Trust in God


okay…I’m sad again, its back…but this time I’ll trust Allah.

توكلت على الله

God, I hope I get out of this state soon. Please pray for me.

…For the record, I know that my life is 1000% better than most others. I have so much good, I should be more grateful for that. This post isn’t in the attitude of “woe is me, I’ll dress in all black and cut myself!” No, not like that.

The prayer of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, when he was in his absolute lowest moments of life.

اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي وقلة حيلتي وهواني على الناس ياأرحم الراحمين أنت أرحم الراحمين  أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي إلى من تكلني إلى عدو يتجهمني أم إلى صديق مكلته إمري إن لم يكن بك غضب علي فلا أبالي ولكن عافيتك هي أوسع لي أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أضاءت له السموات و الأرض  وأشرقت له الظلمات وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والأخره  أن ينزل بي غضبك أو يحل علي سخطك لك العتبى حتى ترضى ولاحول ولاقوة إلابك

 “O Allah, I complain to you of my weakness, and my plan is not working, and how insignificant I am to others, O Most Merciful of the Merciful, you are the lord of those who have no power, and you are my lord. Who are you going to leave me to? To some distant person who will be like the Fire to me? Or to some enemy who you give him power over me? If you have no anger towards me, then I have no objections. But making it easier is lighter upon me. I seek refuge in the divine light of your face, by which even the darkness becomes illuminated. And all of this world and the next world is taken care. I seek refuge that your wrath upon me, or your anger descends upon me. You can do whatever until you are pleased. And there is no power and no change except you.”

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Old Woman at Hajj


I went to Hajj in 2012. The entire thing went very smooth, honestly one of the best experiences of my life. I don’t get these Hajj horror stories, I had a perfect time.

Except one.

During the walk to the Jamaraat, where Muslims symbolically stone Satan, I had separated from my group to help escort an older couple from our group who were a little slow.

While I was walking, I saw an old woman completely collapsed on the ground, as if she was dead. Other people were just walking by her…

I went up to her and asked if she was okay. She was an older woman, probably in her late 60s or so, dark-skinned, looked Indian, missing a few teeth. I asked if she was okay, but she gave me a blank stare. I picked up her ID card, which identified her as Indian. I wish I still knew her name. I think it was Aisha? I don’t remember!

Clearly this woman needed help. She looked as if she had been separated from her group and just collapsed from exhaustion. I had to do something.

I asked if she spoke English. No response. Arabic? No. Urdu? I thought Urdu was like the official language of Muslims India…No Urdu either. She was probably south Indian. I even tried Pashto! But we could not communicate.

I looked around for some water, but I did not see any water anywhere. Just at that moment a Saudi guard came and spoke to me in Arabic. He said she could not lay here like this, I think he presumed I was with her. I told her I did not speak her language, that she was from South India and she was not from my group, but she needed help.

I don’t remember if I asked him for water? Did I? I hope I did? All I remember is looking at her with a face of “I don’t know how I can help you…” It wasn’t my fault, I needed to get back to the group I was escorting, who I almost lost in the sea of people.

I keep playing this scene in my head again and again. I wish I had gone to my group and said I will meet up with them back at the tents, and then gone back to her? I could have carried her to her group, navigated my way around. I spoke Arabic and maybe I could have carried her back to her tent. Maybe the fact that I’m also Indian would have helped her feel comfortable?

I wish so much I had done more. It still haunts me to this day. I was just praying Maghrib and it came to my mind. I wish I had done more.

Maybe I will meet her in the next life and apologize, or just laugh about it and talk about that day.

Approached by an FBI Informant


I’m all but absolutely certain that I was approached by an FBI Informant last night at the Ferguson rally. I’m completely serious.

I went to DC to protest the case in Ferguson, but also the treatment of African-Americans by police in general.

It was a little chilly last night so I was wearing a Pakol, a hat commonly worn by Pashtuns which I happen to be.

beige-colour-pakol-gundara

The exact same kinda hat I was wearing

 

It also just so happens that my neighbor is a DC Cop and in my habit of talking to random people I went up to a cop and asked if he knew my neighbor. They said no, but then a random guy off to the side said “I know him!”. He was prob mid to late 30s, busy beard, sharp nose, wearing a cotton hat. He had with him a fatter, about the same age, wearing a dark kifiyya.

I said oh cool, you do? But he immediately jumped to commenting on my hat. He said something to the effect of “You can’t wear that unless you’ve been to Afghanistan”, upon which I said I am Afghan. He said he was from Kandahar. I busted out in a little bit of Pashto, but he could not understand me. Also, his accent for certain Afghanisms was off – someone his age from Afghanistan would have only come to the US in the last 20 years and would have retained his accent. He then switched to saying he was from Kabul – which I didn’t catch as an inconsistency until about 15 minutes later.

He asked me about the Muslim “centers” (not masjids) where I live and I rattled off a few names. He then said he heard there were a lot of places to “train”. That set off my bullshit detect, but I played dumb and said “train?” He said “train for combat”. I went on to telling him that not only would Muslims in DC not be down for that, they would probably beat you up, and then turn you into the police. He seemed to lose interest pretty quickly, so I repeated that. After that, I walked away somewhat quickly and got lost in the crowd.

Then a thought came to me. If this guy really was someone trying to “infiltrate a Jihadi network”, I want to leave a better impression on him. About an hour or so (not sure) later I randomly ran into him and his friend in the crowd. I said “Listen, if you are, don’t get caught up with those people” and went on about how the Prophet called such people “the dogs of hell”. He said “Yeah, they’re radicals, right?” upon which I said “Beyond radical! If you see them, you should spit on them!” and told him again not to get caught up in those people.

After that, I didn’t see him or his friend again, got mixed up in the crowd.

The Homeless God


I lived on-campus when I was a Sophomore, from 2003-2004. Once as I was standing outside of my dorm with some friends on a cold night, a homeless man approached us and asked us for money. He was visibly disheveled and wore old dirty clothes. I still remember that he had mucus in his beard and had a hint of desperate insanity in his voice. The man asked us for money. Not only did I not have a penny, my generation uses cards, not paper money. He repeated his request and said, “Come on, love’s not a dirty word”. But I really had nothing to give him.

He then said “Do you know who I am…? I’m God.” And then he walked away.

When I look back at that incident, I see it from his perspective. He was (probably) a decent man who fell on hard times and found himself on the street. Now he sees these kids – ignorant, privileged and materialistic, stingy with their blessings, arrogant, living a life of plenty. This, in his immediacy, while he is struggling for his next meal.

Maybe I’m over-analyzing it, maybe he really was missing some of his marbles. But I see his statement “I’m God” not in the literal sense, but an expression of his anger at the situation. It should be different than it is. He has a moral superiority to the one who created the situation, God. So he is better than God. And the next step was to fashion himself God.

That was over 10 years ago. I hope he’s found peace.

The Bad Reason for the Second Amendment


I’m very pro-2nd amendment, I personally own a .22LR rifle, used to own a 9mm, and plan to buy a Mosin-Nagant sometime in the future. However, I completely fail to understand the rationale of some, not all, gun-rights activists. Specifically, those who argue that guns are a necessary tool to over-throw or push back a tyrannical government in the impending future dystopia.

First off, the following reasons in support of the second amendment are unquestionably legitimate:

  • Sportsmanship – When you target shoot just for fun, what’s commonly referred to as called plinking.
  • Hunting – Though it can border on the immoral, killing an animal for food is not only natural, its by far better for the prey than to be raised in a farm from birth and injected with hormones and all that.
  • Historical Value – Because you want a piece of modern history, which has shaped the destiny of the world.
  • Self-Defense – This comes with strong caveat. Use a pistol-caliber round for home-defense, a shotgun or at most an AR-15. Some people get nutty with thousands of gizmos and add-ons. I think that’s over-kill. Unlikely you will need a powerful round beyond what I mentioned. So in general, this is a valid reason.

Now that that’s out of the way, lets talk about the one majorly invalid reason: Fighting back against an out of control government. This almost always take the form of the US federal government restricting freedoms, putting people in camps, devaluing the currently, and what they call “Shit Hits the Fan” scenarios. If this is your primary reason for owning a firearm, your reason is not only irrational, it is absurd and going to get you, your family and potentially your neighbors killed. Turn back while you have time and support peace!

The inferiority of militia groups

If you ever spend time looking up militia groups online, you cannot help but not take them seriously. They’re mostly immature, army-wanna young guys looking for a fight. At best, they have small arms, camouflage clothing, and spirit. At worst, they’re overweight, boast minimal training, mostly consisting of running around with their gun, and are highly irresponsible with their rhetoric. Its as if they want a conflict to break out!

Realistically speaking, if the government wanted to stop your and your cell, short of going into hiding, they would kill you in a heart-beat. If you were ever found to be a serious threat, they would send a drone to bomb you and your entire group. They could do this from 100 miles away, without you having the slightest idea it was coming. And not, your militia group would be relegated to the mountains and die of starvation or exposure, far away from the areas they want to control. I don’t care if you have 10,000 rounds per soul, you would not stand a chance.

In open conflict, a well-trained, well-equipped, well-funded, well-established National Guard would make short-work of these militia-types. It will not be a Second American Revolution, it would be an entirely asymmetric conflict with the Federal Troops winning.

The Eventuality of Conflicts

Even if you could eventually defeat a tyrannical government, its not always worth it. Put down your romanticism and look at the human cost of civil wars.

The past fifty years have seen countless conflicts against national governments. Two examples that immediately come to mind are the Chechen separatist movement of the ’90s and Syrian Rebels in the on-going civil war. In both cases, smaller, less-equipped irregular troops were able to deal a serious blow to the national military. But, at what cost?

I have no defined views on who to support in the Syrian conflict, its one big SHTF scenario. But what I can say is that millions of people have had their lives destroyed, lost limbs, been traumatized, had their wealth and fortunes destroyed, lost family members, and seen their proud country reduced to rubble. An estimated 1.7 Million people have left to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. And even when this damn war ends, the country will be left with open-wounds along sectarian and political divides that never existed in the past — at least not like this.

In the case of Chechnya, the capital city Grozny was reduced to a heap of rubble. I once read that 1/4th of the entire ethnic group was killed in the two wars. Watch the following video. If you eyes are dry after watching this, your heart is dead.


That poor boy looking for his sister…

That is war! Even if you are fine, suited up in your battle-dress uniform, armed to the teeth, the civilian populations who even ostensibly support your cause are subject to the brutal wrath of a faceless state — all in the name of security.

In the past, wars were localized. It was possible for populations to remain isolated from conflict in their own cities. If their walls were high enough and strong enough, they could resist even a six month-long siege. But in modern times, wars are more bloody, more violent, and cost more than they have ever in the history of history.

Conclusion

Finally, I want to close with a final point. In ‘Aqidah al-Tahawiyya, a classical book of theology, the author says

We do not recognize rebellion against our authority or those in charge of our affairs even if they are unjust, nor do we wish evil on them, nor do we withdraw from following them. We hold that obedience to them is part of obedience to God, The Glorified, and therefore obligatory as long as they do not order to commit sins. We pray for their right guidance and pardon from their wrongs.

Though this is a bitter pill to swallow, but the reasons are clear: Fighting creates chaos and bloodshed which is worse than oppression. In these difficult times, forgive each other, have forbearance over the mistakes of others, support peace, put down your weapons and run away from the fight!

Having said all that…I can’t wait to go hunting some rabbits 🙂

My experience accosted by the World Mission Society Church of God


To others, this is offensive. To me, this is beyond fun. I was at a gas station with a friend at 12:30am with a friend when a man dressed in a suit and tie power walked in our direction. My first thoughts were that this guy might need something or wants money. Instead, he asked me if I had read the Bible. Great, I like the Christian street preachers, I’m still waiting to hear the whole “Have you ever told a lie? Then you’re a liar” bit. but unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, this was not that kind of encounter. zhang_gil-jah

This man, whose name is Keith, immediately went on to tell me that just as there is a “God the Father”, there is also a “God the Mother”, and showed me a picture of her. This was the picture to the right.

Right off the bat, I realized that he was not a normal Christian. Second, I wanted to get technical with him and say “God created gender and therefore he could not be subject to gender”, but then thought that might be too much for the moment. He got his iPhone and started showing me that God created humanity in his name, suggesting male and female, and since every living being has a gender God must also have a gender. He then said that because God refers to himself as “we” in Genesis, that it must mean that there’s a plurality and that Ellohim means “Gods”. I am still not certain if he meant plurality of Gods or plurality of parts of God within the hypo-static union.

At that point, and after several attempts, I finally got him to listen for a moment. I asked him if he was familiar with Semitic languages, which he said no. I said Hebrew and Arabic are in a family of languages and since I speak functional Arabic, I can speak about this with a degree of authority. In Semitic languages, there is such a thing as a “royal plural”. But as I was explaining this to him, it seemed like he was so excited, he was just waiting for his turn to speak and was not really listening.

Now, around this time I mentioned to him that I am a Muslim. Almost by definition, that means that the Christian Bible is not a primary source of guidance for me. But he entirely used the Bible as his basis. But I ignored that problem for now. He randomly went into the Sabbath being Saturday. I don’t disagree with him, but what did that have to do with me? He made another point about Isaac haven been given the covenant, but I did not follow him. He said something about how Jerusalem refers to his “God the Mother” figure.

A funny moment was when he randomly jumped to how the “Bride of Christ” is his “God the Mother”. I said the Christians interpret the Bride of Christ as the Church. He immediately said that they are wrong and worship Satan. I said they would say you are wrong, upon which he immediately said “yes, but they are wrong”. I said again “right, but they would say you are wrong and you worship Satan”. This back and forth happened 4 times, but it did not sink in for him.

At this point a good 10 minutes had passed and I did not want to leave my friend waiting around as I talked to this crazy guy, so I said I had to go. He said he wanted my number upon which I very bluntly said I was not going to give my number to a person I just met, but would like his email address or website. He flatly told me that he is not interested in hearing opposing views because when a prophet comes, you do not listen to Satan. I tried to tell him that there is a difference between “listening to Satan” and entertaining valid questions. But that fell on deaf ears. In the end, he told me that the only way to heaven was through his faith. If I was not in “polite mode”, I would have told him that he’s a polytheist and idol worshiper. I also thought this morning that his faith must be weak if it cannot even hear reasoned criticism. But it did not occur to me.

One thing I could see in his eyes was his absolute conviction of his faith, an impatience with hearing others, inability to stay on topic which suggests that he is so convinced of his faith that there are multiple thoughts going on in his head at the same time and he cannot control himself. He did not want to listen, understand or know his audience. I went to their website and there are a few observations I have:

  • They focus on pushing forward their specific doctrines based on the Bible, rather than general topics that might appeal to non-Christians;
  • They are big on self-promotion and pointing out their awards, their community service and how much people love being in the faith, work with the UN, etc;
  • Their videos use a lot of “constructed emotion”, through background music or showing smiling faces, etc. Its more image than substance.

I do not know much more about them, I am not certain if they are a cult or not. But I want nothing to do with them.

Examining my Disbelief


Often, believers in God or a religion reach a state where they begin to develop doubts in what they previously held. This is a frequent occurrence and not unique to any particular cult or creed. As is the trend in our modern times, believers dwell on their doubts and this eventually leads to disbelief, either in the form of apathy or atheism. I can honestly say that I have been through the early stages of a similar, painful experience where I have, and continue to, doubt my faith. But, few who go through this ponder over the legitimacy of their own disbelief or its trigger. What caused their disbelief now, whereas they previously disbelief? This question is seldom asked. Instead, they rationalize their doubts through distractive arguments, which serve merely to back-fill their new positions, instead of arriving at them independently.

In this entry, I hope to self-analyze my own doubts, expose its illegitimacy, expound on its temporarily solution, and lament over my inability to find a makhraj (way out) – except with the help of God, for which I hope and pray.

When I am not in a perturbous state, I find myself imbued with the presence of God in all things I do. This attitude is healthy and productive. But when I am made uneasy by the pains of life and am alone with my thoughts for an extended period of time, I develop a feeling of restlessless, despair, and depression. Since I believe that God is capable of doing all things, the complains and petitions go to Allah for relief. But invariably, those prayers are not answered (According to Islamic theology, all prayers are answered, but not necessarily in the way the person desires). At this point, the proper approach is to recognize the wisdom in God’s decision and submit to it. I can personally attest to recognizing profound wisdoms in not having my prayers answered as I wanted, but it took see that. As Allah says in the Qur’an.

وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

…but perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.
– Surah al-Baqarah, Verse 216

But recognizing a wisdom requires submission and breaking yourself. Its not easy to do. Not only that, it can seem absurd. Our Western culture chases material glory and does not create a space for spiritual growth through pain. Absent of being able to recognize that wisdom, the believer experiences frustration and anger with God. Why did God do this? He should not have! Allah says in the Qur’an:

لَا يُسْأَلُ عَمَّا يَفْعَلُ وَهُمْ يُسْأَلُونَ

He is not questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned.
– Surah Al-Anbiya’, Verse 23 

Frustration and anger of all kinds weaken a person’s rationale and relegate him to emotionalism. Trapped in this state, he may choose to take revenge on God, so he actively disobeys what he previously obeyed, comes to hate God, and ultimately makes the concious decision to disbelieve in Him. In an interview, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan explains this as a deep psychological disorder:

After the person makes his decision, the arguments for atheism become increasingly appealing. The disbeliever uses the arguments as a cover for the real reason he left his faith, not as the primary reason. After all, if his reason was purely intellectual, why did he do so only after a traumatic experience? And why didn’t those same arguments appeal to him earlier? He might read the books of contemporary atheists, or repeat witty atheist mantras without contemplation. But even if this person was intellectually defeated, he would not leave atheism. Reason and arguments have little to do with atheism, just as they have little to do with faith. And because their disbelief is primarily rooted in pain, a common characteristic is to appeal to the pain of others around the world, such as orphans, the destitute, or other disadvantaged people.

I have, and continue to go through a similar experience. In short, a traumatic experience, coupled with seemingly sustained silence from the Heavens has left me bitter, frustrated, angry, and in despair. I don’t know know what to think anymore. Where is God when I call upon him? Perhaps he’s not even there, does not exist! I never outwardly said “I am not longer a Muslim”, but I know I had no reality of faith in my heart, suddenly arguments against faith made sense. As I write this, if there is a God, it is by his divine Mercy that I am a Muslim. I also recognize the profound wisdom in why what happened happened, but it took many years to get to that point.

But this type of disbelief won’t bear to critical examination. It is rooted in an inability to accept the traumatic event, to recognize its wisdom, to recognize that a wisdom does exist. It is buttressed by the spiritual impotence that thrives in a cultural backdrop that urges satisfying one’s every desire and refuses to teach him to deal with deprivation. Thus, the life experiences of the poor and disadvantaged condition them for the pains of life, and force them to rely on God, unlike the rich and privileged who feel self-sufficient and not in need of God.

The next question is, what does someone do who recognizes that his disbelief is primarily the disbelief of pain? This process is very hard, and to this day, I do not have the final solution. However, I can provide some temporary medicines to help you keep your faith afloat:

  • Make a conscious effort to maintain a positive attitude. This means refusing to allow yourself to wallow in depression or despair. You cannot control when it strikes you, but you can change your attitude of dealing of with it. This is the hardest part of the entire process.
  • One of the mental tortures is to dwell on the future consequences of the traumatic event. Don’t do that. You have to change what you are thinking about. Don’t make “plans” or create absurd mental scenarios. This is especially difficult late at night, and I don’t have a cure for that time.
  • Reflect on the negative of what would have happened had the traumatic event not happened.
  • Reflect on the positive things around you. Most people who can read this have infinitely more blessings than problems. But, they just fail to think about them. Your food, your eyesight, your computer, all of these things are tremendous blessings. But few people think about them, most are stuck in the inability to see beyond their limited problems.

My thoughts, please share with me yours…