Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Hajj 1427

Gosh it's already four [lunar] years since we performed the 'Journey of a lifetime'. What an amazing four years.

I still remember the day in Ramadhan [November 2002] when mum gave me the great news that dad had finally agreed to renew his passport and accompany us.. my prayers had finally been received in the Heavans.

Hajj came at a time when it was meant to come. I was at a point in my life where all had become very 'stale'.

My health was haphazard with a cycle of IBS, migraines and a poorly back. I hadn't been able to fast for many years and had somewhat become used to it by now. Career life was good; I was in the second year of my teaching qualification and worked in a couple of places. I didn't know any artists whatsoever but a kind soul had agreed to sell my artwork at his leisure! I was selling the stuff for charity as I was financially alright. I was surrounded by people who I'd known for many years through college, university or work. And my search for 'The Answers' was an on-going daily activity.

And the news had come that my dad's heart had been directed towards Holy Mecca...

2002 had been a tough year for dad as he lost his mum on February 4th.

My grandparents didn't have many siblings who lived to expand the family tree and thus the roots of our family are small. It was only a few hundred years ago that one elder heard the Message and converted into a 'Believer in the One God'. And it is very unlikely that anyone had ever performed the Hajj back then.

After the death of our grandfather, gran made the Hajj, in the mid-1980s. She was the first person ever in our family to go to Hajj. She was accompanied by a noble man; my dads' friend: who also named me. A blessed man who was the first Hajji man I ever met. He died from kidney failure after an operation during the blessed month of Ramadhan many years later.

So who was this lady whose experience taught me that a place called Mecca exists when I was a wee little kid?

She was a woman who had saved me in the late 1970s from being knocked over by a wild boar as I pranced about the fields as a toddler in search of adventure [in Pakistan]. I owe my life to this gentle woman. A tall, frail lady in her 90s dying from 'wear-and-tear' having spent over 20 years as a widow. After the death of his father, dad had seen her as the one 'incharge' of the family. My dad had much respect and love for his mother, and had always sought her counsel in matters.

She had left, and dad was alone.
His mum had gone, departed, returned to God Almighty and he was the one who was now 'incharge' of the family.

In the midst of this, two women [myself and mum] were constant in our demands for him to accompany us to Mecca. On a cold November morn in the early days of Ramadhan.. here we were trying to persuade dad to make his passport so that we could all go to the Umrah [visit] next summer.

As crazy as it sounds, we had no intentions of Hajj whatsoever.
We wanted to convince dad to accompany us 9 months later for a short trip to the Holy Sanctuary.

Dad said no.


I cannot even write here what I felt, did and said.


I still remember the day in Ramadhan [November 2002] when mum gave me the great news that dad had finally agreed to renew his passport and accompany us.. my prayers had finally been received in the Heavans.

Hajj Info:

Channel 4 - 2003
Detailed info
Virtual Tour
BBC Religion & Ethics
Bint-eh Adam: In the City of the Prophet [BBC]

On February 4th 2003, a year after losing his mother to God Almighty, dad accompanied myself and mum on the aeroplane to Damascus, where we would prepare ourselves for our presentation before the Great House.

I thank God Almighty a thousand-fold for giving dads' heart solace in a manner which has helped him cope with the death of his beloved mum.

Alhamdulila Wa'l Shukr Allah.
A Tamil Hajj map :-)

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Finally On DVD!

Al-Ghazali - The Alchemist of Happiness £19.95

Born in 1058 in Tus, Khorasan, in present-day Iran, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali was one of the most original thinkers the world has known. Besides being a major influence in the Muslim world, the West has also felt his effect. He influenced major figures of medieval philosophy such as Thomas Aquinas and Moses Maimonides, who shaped the philosophy of the Latin West. As the author of some 250 books on topics ranging from theology and ethics to metaphysics and philosophy, al-Ghazali came to be known as ‘Proof of Islam’. For almost a thousand years he has served as an inspiration for spiritual seekers everywhere as he was someone, like the Buddha, willing to give up everything: wealth, position, family and comfort in order to search for Truth.


More Info:

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Against Power Dressing

So the other day I wore a pair of smart trousers after about a year and a half.
I felt so out of place.

I am glad I worked in an environment where the dress-code was 'casual but smart'. Am not a bloke so no tie and shirt for me! Ha! The 'suit' approach was a no-no working within mental health and personally I'd rather not dress as if I'm going to court.

Not a fan of power dressing am afraid - the times when I was working I would ensure that I didn't look so unapproachable.. smart trousers and casual tunics were the combination I went for. Or even wearing cords to work hehe.. I managed to get away with it by ensuring the tunic was smart this time ;-) Besides, headscarf co-ordination usually meant that the 'overall' effect was very smart and presentable indeed!

It amazes me: do we dress overtly smart (and I'm not talking about smart floral dresses here) in order to convince ourselves that we are in an 'important' role? or even to remind ourselves we are 'at work'?

Sidi Gai Eaton inspires me immensely:

No art is closer to us both physically and psychologically than that of dress, and if the human figure is excluded - or enters only as an element in the design - elsewhere, it is none the less clothed in splendour at the centre of the Islamic environment.

'No art', says Titus Burckhardt, 'has a more telling effect upon a man's soul than that of clothing, for a man instinctively identifies himself with the clothes he wears.'

He also dresses in accordance with his ideas of himself and of his role in the scheme of things.

pp 209. Islam And The Destiny Of Man

I have often wondered in these almost two years of having been away from work what impression my dress sense gives to passers. If I was wearing a pair of black trousers and smart black shoes they would surely think I am off to work.. especially if I was seen catching my buses between 8-9am!

When I walk pass people in city today dressed the way I do, what do people think of me?

How many of us base our judgements and opinions of people according to what we see them wearing?

And I don't talk here about the rights and wrongs of Islamic attire - even I recall the best dress is 'the dress of piety'. I am talking about how many of us - even within our faith groups are drawn to the apparel in a negative manner. How many people will look at the way I dress and assume I am not 'well-educated' for instance? How many will think I am a student? How many will think I can't speak good English?


So what are my 'ideas of myself' at present and how does my dress reflect that? And why did I feel 'out of place' when I attended the conference last week with a smart pair of trousers?

Personally I think I have outgrown it.
I have my smart trousers in the wardrobe and whenever we have a charity collection I look at them and leave them. My mate Jules says I should keep them for a while as there will be use for them 'later'. Oh, and she also hates power-dressing. She's as casual as me so understands my sentiments quite well.

And No -

I can't become a 'goth'

.. they don't allow oldies ;-)

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Decisions, Choices and the like

We all take decisions, choices and options in life. It is important to be aware of the consequences of these acts.

Just me 'offloading' some thoughts being churned from Camel-Land! Obviously we will not know the conclusive event which results after the decisions we make. However we do need to be a tad bit aware that choice red may lead to events blue and grey.

Those of us who are lucky to live in an environment where we dictate the life we wish to live, are faced daily with decisions. Decisions on lighter things such as what shoes to wear [afterall many of us are lucky to have more than one pair of footwear] to decisions on more heavier or deeper issues such as whether to purchase a copy of Big Issue(?) or comment against an offensive article. We also make the choices regarding whom we wish to speak to and to what level.

So what am I moaning this time...?

Everyday we are faced with decisions to make and it is our responsibility to be familiar with the consequences of those decisions. The Holy Text states there is "no compulsion" in religion - we choose to believe or not. We are decision-makers.

Yes, we are allowed to decide as we see befitting.

However, problems occur when our decisions result in another life being affected negatively. We are all allowed to be happy - but not at the expense of saddening others. Just as we are all allowed to love - but not at the expense of spreading hatred between others.

So we are all allowed to choose, make decisions and opt for certain things in life - but not by compromising the opportunities that others have.

Finally, we must shoulder the responsibility for our decisions. If we are making certain choices - then we must acknowledge full responsibility for the ripples they make in the vast sea of life. If our worlds are littered with countless examples of times when we have made decisions that have lead us to be sad, unsuccessful or at a loss, then we need to ask why.

Why have we failed to see the [negative] impact of some of our decisions? Why are we failing to do 'risk assessments' of the 'bigger' decisions in life?

Would it not be wise to ask yourself before making a decision 'why' am I doing this? Why am I making a decision which is so risky that it may mean me spending many moments in anxiety? Or: Why do I allow my pride and ego to stop me from making a decision which I know will give me peace?

We choose because we can.
Fear the moment when we will have little choice in certain matters.

Prayer for Decision-Making

Other readings:

The Magic Wand Theory
Pink Hippo Theory

La Howla Wa La Quwata Illa Billa.
And there is no Power nor Might except from God Almighty.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006


Am I Public Domain?

Does blogging mean one is sharing too much of their personal stuff with the cyber-world? Some well-wishers caution to be careful about the extent to which we share.

This is a topic that myself and friends have spoken about to great lengths, especially after the beebs stuff on Tranquilart. Some people would never even think about blogging, simply because it is too 'personal'. And I believe that.

I also believe that some people would never ever tell their friends certain parts of their life, certain experiences or encounters.

What we share is what we choose to share.

But then why is it that people feel I am blogging about my 'personal life' here?

I only share what I want to with those who read this.

My belief is that each one of us holds within us an entire universe. When we share, we allow others the opportunity to see a bit of that universe.

I also believe that our life on earthly existence is limited. One day we would have passed onto the next world. How many will notice our absence or will we become another statistic in some registery? Death sits at our side throughout the day, night arrives and we are gone from this world. Then, if God Almighty so wishes, our souls are returned here and we greet the dawn not knowing where we have spent the last several hours. Once I die, how many will remember me?

I do think about these things.

I know that I don't need to justify myself, but I understand that it is important to let readers know that what they read here is what I feel happy about sharing with you. We are all made up of several billions of layers of experience.. and I only share here a few of them. I don't think I do anything extraodinary. And I certainly have drawn much motivation and courage to write from the many lovely comments you have emailed me or been brave enough to submit online.

Blogging here or writing in my journal allows me to understand myself better at times.

But there are many things I do not write anywhere about. And these are those things I hold deeply personal to me and cannot part with. An example is that I never discuss dreams [I mean dreams that we have (good or bad) when we sleep] and my family here. I also never detail the content of certain encounters I have had with certain Inspirational individuals, or certain subtle experiences which have changed my life dramatically.

Why don't I do this?
It is no disrespect to the reader. Natural boundaries. As I always say in the write-ups in Tranquil Zone that nothing I write is conclusive.. there is much much more to it. This is only what I could manage to give, for now.

So how much of me is really public domain?

I think only the amount that I allow to be.

Some Arty Write-ups:

The Beloved

Finding God
Circles of Knowledge

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Sunday, December 03, 2006


Mourning my Career

I am not after sympathy from anyone and neither do I write this in a sad tone. I write this as a reflective piece which I hope allows me to better-understand myself. Seriously, nobody will ever come to know what we think of, at each stage of our life. But we owe it to ourselves to understand why we feel the way we do.

The eventual termination of my employment about 3 months ago was a surprise but it was a ‘closure’ which I expressed as making me feel that my slate had been wiped clean. It gave me the opportunity to once again see the world as an oyster and to ‘venture out’ as one friend put it. I was a school-leaver once again.. though 14 years later!

After chatting with the Disability Employment Advisor in Ramadan, we both concluded that voluntary work which didn’t require so much commitment [in terms of hours] would be the best avenue to re-establish some of the lost confidence I have been feeling all this while.

I am very lucky in that I have met so many people from so many backgrounds and fields of work. One such person is the individual who runs the Pioneers Mentoring Scheme. A couple of months ago I enquired about the prospects of becoming a volunteer as I already have a Mentoring qualification. For the last 3 weeks I have been attending a 7 – week training programme; although it’s only 1.5 hours in length [as it is not an accredited course of study] for me it is quite demanding in terms of both physical and non-physical energies.

It dawned upon me in the first session that I no longer have a job and that my present career is in doing nothing, being unemployed and signing on. I am not a teacher anymore. I don’t do the kind of tasks I have done in the bulk of my years at an employment. We have all heard jobseekers say that looking for a job is a job in itself but when that pursuit is also accompanied with a longing for accepting life and it’s Divine mysteries, the task becomes arduous.

The Disability Employment Advisor and myself believe that looking for a full-time job in the teaching sector is futile. There is a phase between being ‘sick’ and being ‘well’. It is naïve to assume people will be OK after having been sick for a period of time.

For instance, if someone has a bad spell of tummy-trouble, they will require some time away from ‘normal’ activity: it may vary from a day to a week, it may require a sick-note if it’s over a week. After this period the individual will feel better and resume ‘normal’ activity again. If they were absent from work, they will get back - perhaps even take a fit-note from the GP. However the period of sickness (even if it was a days’ troubled tummy) will have slowed the individual to some degree. And the individual will allow greater pace for activities and take it easy until the body is completely over the illness where they resume like before.

When I look at my own situation I know that there is still some way to go before I am fully ‘recovered’ and adjusted to my new health status. Yes my blood tests have ruled out any major illness and I am really happy to know that all’s well in there. However I do have arthritic wrists which limit me [wait for that write-up]. I know in my heart of hearts that I have tried my bestest regarding my health. My health and career are so interlinked it’s spooky. Afterall, the reason I am not at work is because of my health! I know leaving work is a positive thing as it has helped me think about what else I want in life.

But the problem seems to be just that: what else do I want in life?

When I taught Career Skills, I taught my students that career refers to our working years. I like that definition. I don’t think it is fair to isolate the term to only paid work or one’s profession. And it’s odd that now I find it difficult to palate this definition.

I look within, perhaps I have lumps of pride which don’t allow me to fully submit to my situation?

Perhaps I have hidden deep inside lots of anger for the situation I find myself in?

The thought disgusts me.

I start to think why am I feeling like this. Is it because I am back to square one and although I am a ‘qualified’ something – I’m actually a qualified ‘nothing’? Is it because I have spent countless days and nights working really hard for the skills and knowledge I thought would help me contribute to society?

I feel perturbed and speak to a friend who consoles me. I am brought back into the earthly realm again. I am taught how lucky I am. I am taught that the skills we have are transferable. I am taught that life is about challenges and that this is yet another one.


I am still me.

Nothing can change our past. What we have achieved, and all the successes we have come to us are blessings from God; ours to own. The fortunes are still there. Nothing has been taken away from us.

I come to realise that I am allowed to mourn. There is nothing wrong with it. And neither should I feel ashamed of it. I don’t care if people call me materialistic. I know I am not.

And I don’t care if people say I love the charms of this world. I know I don’t. My Creator is the Most Merciful and the Most Kind. He Knows why I mourn.

He knows I spent many years studying.

He Knows I was an honest and hardworking teacher.

He Knows that my job was an act of worship for me because I worked from my heart.

He Knows I loved it because it made me feel like a human being.

He Knows me, so He Knows why I feel the way I do.

For me, a few weeks ago was the first time in 21 months that I re-engaged with the world of work. And I found it frightening. For 18 months I was on sick-notes and although I thought about the ‘what next’ I never experienced what life would be like post-sicknotes.

Now, I believe I have made the right choice and am enjoying the mentoring slot every week. I feel so happy and lucky at the blessing of being able to do something that I feel at peace with. Alhamdulila! I think this is what career is really about. It is about how we utilise our energies in our working years so we are at harmony with ourself; physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually and intellectually.

The society we live in doesn’t allow us to mourn. We live in a fast-paced milieu. We’re not allowed to collect ourselves after events happen. We are not allowed to address ourselves. There is no time! But that’s wrong!

We have a right to mourn.

If we don't mourn the changing tide, we will find that the unaddressed emotions will find themselves elsewhere in our life. We need to mourn in order to see closures; closures which will lead to new openings.

Suddenly I remember that all those years ago my reason for entering the teaching profession was because of my ill health. Isn’t it amazing that I have done full-circle? I deferred my Midwifery degree after graduating and became a teacher. I loathed my teaching. It took me 2 years to accept that teaching was the way forward for me. Don’t be startled. This is life. It’s interesting.

My wellbeing and my career are woven with the threads of faith. I can only pray that these threads stay strong so I can continue to wear the garment of a ‘one who believes’.

Peace and prayers

Bint-eh Adam x x x

related posts:
Why life starts at 30
Leaving the mental health field
The magic wand theory

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