Monday, August 13, 2012

Plan to NOT Have a Plan and all that jazz........

Today, I mean yesterday, was a particularly dusky, dull day, very little 'heat'  even in the mid afternoon. If I recall correctly there was some light drizzle even post Zohor. With hindsight one wonder whether it could well be a post LailatulQadr day. I was day-dreaming of course and if it was, I certainly 'missed ' it, yet again. Mashaallah ! 

I missed the whole GRAND PLAN., I mean being 'there  when 'the angels were down here taking notes of who and who' doing 'what and where'. I  was a case of MIA, missing in action, translated probably  in deep sleep and snoring....

Talking of PLAN and PLANNING, I am reminded of a  recent reading  of Scott Kugle's interesting and very readable transalation of Kitab al- Tanwir fi Isqat al Tadbir  [' The Book of Illumination' but if translated directly it could mean 'The Book of Illlumination for Desisting From Selfish Calculation "], by Ibn 'Ata' Allah al- Iskandari, [ died, 1309 ], a well known fuqaha and medieval Muslim mystic of his time. The gist of his voluminous writing was :

If we really listened to the Divine Speech of the Quran, we would generate the self restraint to stop calculating selfishly for our  own benefit. " Don't plan. But indeed it is impossible not to plan. So if you still  must insist on planning , then, plan not to have a plan  !".

That was the  venerable Shaykh's advice.

.My God in this 21st century world, I find it hard to 'plan not to  have a plan', but after finishing his lengthy book, I more or less can appreciate his philosophical position. But  I am still smarting from  the startling realization that the sufi mystic was, and is correct to the T.  He had to be. My ilm is too clouded with secular impurities while his is plain 'marifa'. The difference of pure honey from the desert of Yemen and the one sold off the shelves from  Mydin's or Giant Super Stores.

Scott Kugle cleverly starts his translation with a medieval parable, a parable about 'the straying servant' :

a person who is concerned for himself is like a servant whose master has dispatched him on a mission.
the master has sent him to some land that the master owns to procure some cloth there for him.
when the servant arrives in that place, he begins to say to himself, " where will i reside ? whom will 
i marry ?" he gets preoccupied with these questions, expanding all his energy on anxiety about these concerns, 
until he is delinquent  in executing the commands for which his master had sent him. when his master calls on 
him, his reward from his master will be  that the master cuts him off and separates himself from the servant, 
since he was totally preoccupied by his own affairs rather than observing the prerorgatives and rights of his master.

so it is with you, my fellow believer. THE TRUE ONE has dispatched you to this world and commanded you to serve 
in it faithfully, and has undertaken to support and sustain your existence contingent on your service. if you have
become engrossed in worrying about your own concerns for yourself and neglect the rights held over you by
your master, then you have turned aside from the path of right guidance and slid down the low road of ruin.

All of us are guilty at one time or another , just like the 'straying servant'. Masha allah !

I was reminded of my very own  parable which was about a kampong boy who  was getting too big for his head !
And why not ? He has an M Phil from Cambridge despite coming  from the god forsaken place in Kelantan called Slow Temiang.  A  place some 50 years back 'even trains would not want to stop', they just 'slow down', for passengers 'to get up and get down'. Add the English word 'slow' to 'Temiang' and you get what I mean : Slow Temiang.
There were many places like this in southern part of rural Kelantan. Too uneconomic to have a station master or a station but  the jungle teaming with settlers and 'renegades' running away from the harsh realities and difficulties in  southern Thailand, trying to irk some living from the forest of the much neglected, unvisited places in Ulu Kelantan. Their only mean of transport to the 'monied' places of  Kuala krai and Gua Musang [ filled with Chinese then  who were on the whole mainly communist sympathisers ] to sell their forest 'wares' was by train or by long boats . No roads then.
Even in 2002 now, life in Slow temiang is still pretty slow. Imagine you are from there and have a degree from Cambridge to boot.

In Slow Temiang some years back a Cambridge educated kampong boy met the village imam and verbally accosted him :
" Imam I have 2 questions for you, and if you can answer them well enough, I will be willing to join you for prayers at your madrasah"
" OK young man, i will try my best, but i must remind you my qualication is only pondok tok nyer" , retorted the imam.

"My 1st question is, how can there be god when we cannot even see him ?". the  imam was feeling short of breath with inner anger.
"Secondly, even if there is Allah, I find this 'qadr and qadar thing' that you guys believe and adhere to, very ridiculous, it cannot be right !", the young man said triumphantly.
The imam was in deep anger and  without hesitation gave the young chap a very tight slap on the face.

"Ouch !! what  the is that for? "
" That my young man is my 2 in 1 answer to your questions ! did you feel the pain ?"
" You ! numbskull. village gedebe or something ! Of course I feel the pain ! Crazy imam ! "
"I dont see your pain. I cannot see your pain, it cannot be there ", now it is the imam's turn to turn on the pressure
"..and my dear young man, did you see the slap coming? "
" No !, you are real crazy, man ! "
"That my young man is qadr and qadar".......................................

Now the Cambridge educated kampong upstart has been frequently seen to be the occasional bilal at  Slow Temiang whenever he went back from Kuala Lumpur to tend to his gaharus !

This parable, less philosophical, with  a distinct lack of depth than the medieval one, I named as the 'parable of a tight slap".
Yes, you young  and old upstarts from Kuala Lumpur, myself included,,[...and some, now datos and datins, or even a tansri or two ,real or imagined !  ] , we do need an occasional tight slap on our faces to bring us back to reality. We actually do. It is a good exercise in humility.

May your Ramadan and mine be  a blessed one

Nik Howk

"unrelated articles in the blog" [ un- planned ! ] :

1. Light ....

2. Hamza Yusuf....

3. Death and Eternal Life After Death...

4. Abdur Rahim Green...

5. Hoessien Nasr on Eternal Life

6. Circling The House of God [ Dr Martin Lings ]
part 1....
part 2....
part  3....

7. Of Spiritual Winter, Spring, Mahabbah, and The Hereafter.....

8. Living With Ourselves : Prof T J  Winter

No comments: