Friday, July 22, 2011

Faces in Islam : Prof Seyyed Hossien Nasr on The Pursuit of Happiness, An Islamic Perspective

'Pope' is dead!

'Pope' aka Prof Wan Burhanuddin, one time dean of USM School of Architecture, sufi disciple, streetwise philosopher of sort, school day rebel, self-stlyed Lingzi exponent,died yesterday after a long, very private and painful struggle with cancer.

Pope, my classmate from form four science 2, at the Malay College from 1968, lead a very colorful multifaceted life veering to the extreme left in his schooldays experimenting with all that need to be experimented in the whirling and dizzying days of the 60's and the 70's to the extreme right in the 90's and the 10's in his later day life, with Quran and tafseer oozing out like water filled to the brim ! I am already missing him.........his oft tangent comments, his sharp and witty rebuttals and above all his criticism without barbs and poison.

May his soul be amongst those accepted by The Beloved. May God be content with him.

In essence, Life, is just truly a collection of breath. If we already have used up X numbers of breath, mathematically, the number Y of what is left of it, grow less and less in actual numerical significance. This does not require the IQ of Albert Einstein or rocket science to know but we, collectively, do continue to live on in almost total heedlessness. We are just like those cows and goats in the abattoir, munching on hay and chaff 'happily' regardless of the fact that our turn is just a few very precise moment away, all already predetermined, to the precise millisecond,by the cogwheel already in motion.....

Last night,myself, my new-found relative Nadzru Azahari,CEO of Ranhill Worley and long-time classmate during my Sultan Ismail College days in the early 60's and an 'Arabist' par excellence,[ I just discovered he is also a Rao from the Mandor Diman lineage of Kelantan, 'click here' for Rao of Malaysia ], Prof Wan and Prof Zainey were supposed to 'dissect' Rene Guenon, Fritjof Schuoen, Prof Nasr and Perennial/Traditional Philosophy at our 'mandi' dinner at an Arab restaurant just outside Masjid Al Falah, Taipan USJ. Our two knowledgeable professors 'politely' called back earlier to say they were not able to attend. I suspect the subject matter must be deemed too heavy. It is my bad habit to throw 'heavy stuff at these academic friends of mine!

Me and Nadzru, we ended up discussing 'Happiness' instead.

The nature of happiness is oftentimes discussed within Islamic milliue. The pursuit of happiness, however, is very much a Western and secular concept. True Muslims do not pursue 'happiness' per se as a 'station'. The wise ones from amongst us celebrate the remembrance of God in zkir, prayer and doa an in every move of our lives and in the process acheive the higher states of Contentment and Rida. 'Happiness' that comes with being in these states is just regarded as incidental 'collateral' damage !.

From the perspective of Prof Syed Muhammad Naguib al Attas, our very own home-grown philosopher, Happiness in Islam has to do very much with having the proper 'ADAB' but this would be addressed in future discussion.........

For the present, let us listen to what Prof Seyyed Hossien Nasr has to say :

The journey to God is the journey of our Qalb to free themselves from the 'naf'.
Superior freedom is not the freedom of the 'naf', but freedom from the 'naf'.
Happiness is not happiness distant from the Source of happiness but rather nearness to The Source of happiness.
Knowledge is not knowledge of created things but knowledge of the Creator.

Shaykh Mukhtar al Maghraoui,
Al Medina Institute, USA
Double PHD in Physics and Electronics Engineering.

PS :
The 'mandi' in USJ is not that great. I have yet to find an ideal 'mandi' here in KL. An ideal 'mandi' rice should not be too dry and neither should it be too wet but the 'piece de resistance' is really in the meat: the mutton should still be slightly dripping in its own juice, but again not too wet, just nicely wet. I had that some years ago in Jeddah at a friend of friend's house, Salleh al Patani. A home cooked 'mandi'.
I have been searching for that kind of'mandi' all these years. Ideal things in your mind are always illusive ! One of the pleasures of life is the search, they say.....

For a short sojourn on Prof Naguib al Attas, click here

For part 2, click here

1 comment:

Pearls and Gem said...

You may wonder why I chronicle about the demise of a good friend in the morning and still able to discuss the nature of happiness in the evening !

If we listen carefully to the two world renowned scholars 'happiness' in Islam transcends this transient world.If one follow the proper 'adab' ie putting the right things in their proper place as per Prof Naguib's advisory which coincide with Prof Nasr's contention that 'happiness' in Islam is knowing Him and able to worship Him arising from that knowledge of Him, then death is just a penultimate station before an eternal life. Our final destination is a station called 'the hereafter'.

If we realise that pretty early, then all these 'heedlessness'[ hypocrisy, unaccountability,self centredness, excessive love of the world, hoarding etc etc] become quite idiotic.