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Expressions

The Muslim Writers Society Literary Magazine

A Tale of Two L o vi n g B r o t h e r s

A g r a n d m o t he r ' s f o l k t a l e

A l i gn i n g Hu m a n A n t e n n a e

Volume 1, Issue 1 November 2009

F or M oh a m ed . . . w r i t t e n by a g ol d e n p e n


Editor's Note Seek

A

By Taubah Blackman

ssalaamu'alaikum and all the greetings of peace and blessings from Allah to you. Our readers and contributers are what keep our spirits high to continue producing, with the grace of Allah, The World Muslim Writer's Society and Foundation. May your contributions and participation bring to your hearts and minds the remembrance of Allah, the compassion for His creations, and a tight and unwavering grip of His rope. May He forgive you of your sins and grant you the blessing to pass to the next life, only in the state of true Iman. In this day we like to see ourselves as progressive. Not only in our understanding of what it is to be individuals in a world that looks at Muslims in a one­dimensional view, but individuals in the way we paint the world with beauty and life. Throughout Islamic and world history, there has been an incalculable number of writers who have helped to shape the way we, as a growing and developing world, feel and see ourselves and those around us. Allah sent down the Qur'an to a people who were artistically inclined, showing them that nothing is more beautiful and amazing to every portion of our makeup than the beauty of Allah and the religion that He has blessed us with. When the heart is asleep, the sweetness and melody of His words, Expressions Magazine

moves us, brings us to life, and stirs within our souls a longing, our intellect a hunger, and our hearts a thirst; one that for the writer, Allah has given the ability to express. Through stories, poems, articles and writing of every kind, the world has been presented for generations and generations the beauty of Allah. Today, MWS presents to the progression of history: Expressions; The MWS Literary Magazine

“Our Lord accept this from us. Surely You are the all Hearing, all Knowing” (Qur'an; 2:127) November 2009 | 2


Seek

by Taubah Blackman A poem from your editor:

Secrets there, do whisper; come journey on my wings. come sing along the winds embrace and silent calls to dream.

Yet tremble under all who dare, the cries do heal the soul. In drifting on sweet melodies each captured do lose control. In joining dare to find embrace in fears that linger there, to sweep atop the dripping tears that pushed through nights despair. In trusting where the shadows roam, come find me longing for... in grace that sings your melody, for courage waiting at hearts door.

whisper through closed lips, the trapped do crave defeat, in searching do they weary on at endless storms retreat.

For truth but slips within cracked eyes the glow of night does ponder and caressed inside a soul of pain makes shifting fear much stronger. Come journey on my wings. so lost... you wish to prove your value Expressions Magazine

yet worth pours out of piercing hearts and those pangs you refuse to bow to.

In floating­ let your worries wander, let crystals clear your way. let go of all the drifting thoughts, that beg your heart to stay.

in soaring­ ease the staining pain your lips never dare to speak through living­ embrace your cherished wonder and your truest.. self do seek. ­­ Taubah Blackman, Executive Editor From the Managing Editor: As salaamu alaykum,

SubhanAllah! MWS has come a long way. What a great journey it has been thus far! Two of our wonderful founders and head editors of MWS recently celebrated the birthday of their 3­year­old daughter, alhamdulilah. May Allah bless them always, ameen. I say that because MWS is like our child. We watch it grow, change, and now we see it accomplishing a milestone. It is exciting. Look at the hard work we all put into it. I am honored to have MWS around to help many others with sharing their creative works around the world, with submissions from NYC to California and overseas. The journey continues and we pray you are there for the ride. After all, it is the kind, creative, and mubarak people like you that helped us get this far. Keep writing! Ameera Rahim, Managing Editor

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November 2009 | 3


Contents

j

A Tale of Two Loving Brothers

Yusuf ibn Aiyyoub

For Mohamed

Suad Halane

Judge Not The Desert Sadaf Batool

Aligning Human Antennae Yusuf ibn Aiyyoub

The Mystic Fisherman Tavis Adibudeen

Expressions Magazine

7 10 11 13 17 November 2009 | 4


Expressions Magazine Publisher Tavis Adibudeen tavis@oneummah.net

Executive Editor Taubah Blackman taubah@oneummah.net

Managing Editor Ameera Rahim ameera@oneummah.net Featured Authors Yusuf ibn Aiyyoub Sadaf Batool Suad Halane

Muslim Writers Society is a subsidiary of One Ummah Network. To learn more about the project, visit http://www.oneummah.net. All Muslim Writers Society material is available online at http://writers.oneummah.net.

For advertising information and all other inquiries, contact the publisher at support@lanterntorch.net or visit http://www.lanterntorch.net. Š Copyright 2009 by OneUmmah.Net. Some Rights Reserved.


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November 2009 | 6


A Tale of Two Loving Brothers

I

MWS Editor's Choice By Yusuf ibn Aiyyoub n a village in far­off Khurasan lived Shahryar, an honest hardworking youth and his brother Hoshyar, an indolent book­worm, who was fond of food but loathed to work. When news of a job at Akhoonji’s rich farm reached their hungry ears, Shahryar begged his brother to stay back and let him go. Hoshyar, known for his laziness and gluttony, yawned, “Go forth brother, by all means, for work and I are natural foes. Remember me when there’s food you can’t finish or hardship you cannot bear! Go forth in the name of Allah!” Akhoonji was a mean and miserly landowner who not only oppressed his workers but enjoyed watching them suffer. Expressions Magazine

Mean though he was. Akhoonji was reputed never to break his word. The injustice and cruelty he delighted in was from the diabolical cleverness of his mind. “Hark now lad, for I will not say it again,” Akhoonji told Shahryar. “Work and eat exactly as instructed. Lest you give up the job, there’s no money for you; on the other hand if sack you from work, a whole year's pay is yours—and that’s a hundred pieces of silver! “To work now ye miserable brat, or be off with you!” Tired and panting for breath, Shahryar finished gathering hay and feeding the cattle. But Akhoonji had forbidden him to use the oxen to till the land; so poor Shahryar pulled the plough with his own shoulders. At the end of the day, wincing with blisters and bruises, the new farm hand sat down to eat. “Beware lad, for you must eat your loaf without breaking the edge; and, November 2009 | 7


what’s more—eat this honey without opening the lid!” So saying, Akhoonji personally offered him large, disc­ shaped loaves of bread, and a big pot of honey. “Eat as much as you like,” guffawed Akhoonji, “for there’s a lot more of it in my larder!” Poor Shahryar went to sleep without food, for how could he eat bread without breaking the edge or honey without opening the lid? “What do you think of that, woman!” Akhoonji sniggered at his wife, as both of them waddled to their bedroom. “Generous Aqa!” she simpered. “Several loaves of bread and a whole pot of honey—all for a miserable wretch . . . why, even our hounds don’t feast half as well; and to think people call you cruel!” Shahryar worked for another day and yet another; but simply couldn’t go Expressions Magazine

on with an empty stomach. Before long, tired and forlorn, bruised and fatigued, hungry as he’d never been, Shahryar limped back home. Grieved to hear of his brother’s suffering and outraged by Akhoonji’s cruelty, Hoshyar resolved to meet injustice with ingenuity, and compel Akhoonji to fair­play. The next day he marched to the farm much against Shahryar’s protests and cautioning. Agreeing to the same terms, Hoshyar set about his tasks with effortless ease—but with a great deal of difference. Akhoonji and his wife were too complacent by now to watch the doings of yet another gullible farm hand. But when things seemed too quiet for Akhoonji’s liking, the ponderous landowner decided to investigate. Seeing his cattle grazing in the fields and beyond, he rounded on his new servant with much abuse. “Why, you infernal lout! You’re supposed to gather hay and feed them in the byre. Round them up this instant!” Calm and yet firm, Hoshyar said— “Nay, good sire, you only asked to feed the cattle, and that’s but what I’m doing. As for rounding them up, do it all yourself, for that is not my chore.” And when Akhoonji had himself tethered his cows and oxen, he found his horses gone! No prodding did the horses need as they furrowed that land in endless rows. Hoshyar, to Akhoonji’s dismay, lay on the grass, chewing a strand of hay. Akhoonji sputtered with rage when Hoshyar explained, “I was not to use the oxen; you didn’t say, ‘don’t use the horses either'…” At mealtime Akhoonji was fit to be tied. Hoshyar ate with gusto, plucking at November 2009 | 8


the centre of the disc­shaped loaf, leaving the edge in tact! Large rings of loaves began to pile up as Hoshyar asked for more and more. Piercing a hole in the bottom of the earthen pot he sucked out all the honey. Pots of honey began to gather around Hoshyar, and it seemed he’d eat forever. Looking back for a signal or perhaps a restraining hand, the landlord’s wife could find none. She went on serving the bold and plucky youth while Akhoonji stood as if petrified. Aghast, drained of all his wits, the man of his word could now have bitten his tongue! “Go away, lad,” gasped Akhoonji, mopping his brow, “for you’ve all but emptied my larder. Here’s a hundred pieces of silver—it’s a whole year’s pay. “Keep away from my livestock and horses, and cross not again this Expressions Magazine

threshold; I don’t know what you are, for you’re more than a match for me.” It was still early afternoon when Hoshyar returned home. “Allah be praised!” he shouted. Giving his brother a friendly cuff and the bag of jingling silver, he fell upon his creaking bed and belched for all his worth. “It’s all yours, brother of mine, for not an ounce of work did I. Keep it all for justice—what use have I of money?” “Allah be praised!” exclaimed Shahyar when he had heard his brother’s exploits. “Truly, an ounce of wisdom is better than a ton of effort!” So ends the tale of loving brothers, living hand in hand. With food aplenty, the house repaired, and clothes and shoes in grand array. It’ll be a long time, by Allah’s will, that they’ll be free from want or worry.

[Taken down from the lips of my wife’s grandma verbatim, and retold by Yusuf ibn Aiyyoub Bangalorewala, alias Yusuf Lien, 1998] [A Real Grandma’s Folktale]

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Poems For Mohamed By Suad Halane As a child I recall heroes’ high in stature Who only exuded peaceful raptures Possessing my heart like the sweet whispers of nature That I could never capture But heroes are not always childlike visions of men in tights That light up cities at night Only to wrap you with a miserable plight But instead heroism lies within strangers Within modest upright brothers and sisters Who carry the feather­like flag of Islam Always reflecting the light of iman And existing by the faithful sword Of compassion bestowed upon them by the almighty lord

As I zoom into the sky with my lens I see a chronicle being written by a golden pen A journal entry of my acquaintance with a devoted brother No relations between us other then we are both strangers Not only has he made my heart pace As I chase him just to catch a glimpse of his face Just to touch a chord of his grace Just to hear his passion for his faith Expressions Magazine

But his poetry has created a trail for me on this jaded path With each footprint he leaves behind words that are sound Of secret whispers he shares with the ground Of the eternal bliss that he has found For he knows this world is nothing but a mirage A trap for disbelievers who have taken its hand in marriage That will only lead to darkness and destruction And end with their soul’s eternal damnation

But my brother knows all about sacrifice He has long struggled just to suffice To strictly follow his religious obligations So that he will receive eternal satisfaction When he speaks he only shares the best from his mind And when with others he always remains kind And within his heart is treasure chest Of all the good deeds he has collected in this worldly quest Gathering it in a peaceful den And sharing it with all the lions amongst men Sharing his wisdom till his put to his final rest Knowing that he remained sincere to succeed in the ultimate test So as I take my final look through my lens Diamond clusters show a name written by that golden pen Of a wonderful brother surrounded by rose petals shaded scarlet red I shall never forget his beautiful name spelled Mohamed

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Judge Not The Desert By A Few Grains Of Sand By Sadaf Batool bombs, planes, towers, trains You did it, you're to blame what me? but how?

You're the same as them to me right now but wait

For what? You to attack me, kill me? I

kill my friends and my family? Expressions Magazine

let me speak!

what do you want? what is it you seek? just listen to the words of an innocent into my life take a peek for I know not what you feel but the image in your head is not real

Look around you...see for yourself the headlines everyday, news, any book on any shelf but that is just it...do you not see the media playing with the minds of both you and me for what you witness

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is but a minority...a minority!

You are all the same! look at you dressed like that why though? were you forced? are your parents to blame? and those men with the beards and the hat acting like that you fail to understand judge not the desert by a few grains of sand so what are you like then? what am I missing? so they're not terrorist extremist fundamentalist men?

there may be some who have no clue that by killing one it is like the whole humanity dies too but look not at them but at the best of men Muhammad, peace and blessings on him Who?

Muhammad, peace and blessings on him who taught that there is only One God that we will die and for our deeds be judged that there were previous messages sent as well like the Torah, Psalms, and Bible too to teach humankind what is wrong and right to help them guide them free them from the ignorant state they were in killing each other Expressions Magazine

burying daughters alive getting drunk and mistreating women that was their life to all nations did come a Prophet but they rejected the message or paid no attention but then came a man like no other treating both arabs and non arabs like his brothers showing us how best to behave even trees and animals we must save not to harm even the smallest of creatures these are but a few of his beautiful teachings I did not know, had no idea so this is Islam? It is now much clearer

Even now as you look at us, you may see the image you had before but as I get off this bus I leave you with one thing more Do not believe everything you see and hear read the Qur'an and the answer is clear look at the character of Muhammad peace be upon him read, and research and find out about him I pray to my Lord that this has helped you to hear my side of the story too and I know that if I die today My Lord knows that His message did I try and convey I must leave now, as do you and as this trip comes to an end It was nice meeting you Peace be with you my friend.

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Aligning Human Antennae

By Yusuf ibn Aiyyoub

Rarely anyone, nor any institution of established learning and popular culture will consider the statement, let alone concede, that the average person is no different from a foraging animal, whether one is poor or extremely wealthy, even if one happens to be educated in a college or university, and that only when one rises above this condition can one be said to be educated. The defense is predictable: “ Nonsense! Animals have no social or civil concerns, commitment to human or animal rights etc. They can't think, invent, discover, etc.” The answer to it is – look what men are thinking about, see what they are

Expressions Magazine

inventing, and examine the discoveries! In fact, those examiners who cannot condone the new degeneration are no different. Social concerns? There can be no difference between man and a dog. The dog wags his tail in gratitude when given, and remains patient when denied.

The refined person thanks even when denied, and wishes for and gives one's family and loved ones and to others when bestowed ( Refer to the interchange between Abdullah ibn Mubarak and Shaqiq of Balkh). Today's man scoffs at such altruistic ideas, considering it passe`. So? Is mankind lower than a crow, the well­ known scavenger? A dog snarls when another of his kind threatens his bone, whereas a crow, albeit a thief and pest, November 2009 | 13


never eats until he has invited his friends to share.

Animals hang around, eat, mate, fight and sleep; some of them are trained to, willy­nilly, work and serve. Like beasts, people except prisoners, avoid what they resent if they can help it. The general idea being that one is free to choose whatever one likes, so that lack of any restraint on the five senses is defined as freedom. The first step to escape this state(doing whatever one likes to do) is turning the other way, steering oneself to a different, better course. To look away is to avoid or ignore. Since not all actions can be explained, one would expect that there may or may not be better things to divert one's attention to the extent that it matters not what kind of a diversion it is, as long as one can manage to avert one's gaze from the general region of one's discomfiture or boredom. One can cover one's nose to offensive smells, but then there's noise one cannot help hearing, so that avoidance becomes very trying.

There's no gainsaying that it would be foolhardy to prefer detachment to deflect a confrontation with reality. Nonetheless, the notion, that look­and to do so a second time spells the risk of getting mentally, emotionally, and maybe even physically involved, is not entirely untrue. It is obvious that one can't survive without getting the least bit jostled. The untutored mind skirts around reality, immensely drawn to it, though actually preferring the safety of comfortable alternatives. To pretend Expressions Magazine

would be to delude one's own self. Moreover, most of us would never admit an uncanny dread of the virtual, for it presents nothing but an intangible promise, which only those with experience and rare wizardry can harness or even put to use. Thus, it is the physical prospect of any opportunity that immediately urges the unenlightened soul to reach out, touch, and hold, for instant, assurance since its perception is not remote but more or less controllable. Consider, e.g. Among hobbies – a sudden switch: why some artist would give up photography and prefer engraving stone. The same holds true for those who prefer a change, even in location.

Luggage is not the only burden most tourists carry: there are well­ concealed secrets, unidentified fears, trauma, misplaced beliefs, personal grief etc. Many of them go places to be ride of them in lieu of answers, and contentment. The so­called mind­mappers know nothing about the fact that human mentation is inseparably linked with the heart. Moreover, Feng Shui cannot cure, nor even alter, one's mood and mentation, and of invisible bias. Synthetic drama and cinema entertains, adding layer upon layer on the heart until its core complains, longing for the real experience, wanting to experience the truth with one's own mind, sans artificial stimulus.

The human soul aspires to be whole, and forms relationships to siphon qualities and features from November 2009 | 14


another more refined understanding and knowledge to sustain and enhance one's own spirit. But, left to oneself, there is no alternative but to grope – not in a maze – but in the darkness of not knowing. Bereft of true pathways one accepts substitutes of every type albeit knowing it to be flawed. However, not all is lost, for these are the ways that lead one toward an identification of what is understood as false or “evil”. Identifying the substitute becomes the first step for one seeking the real.

Even when popular icons with auditory and visual stimulus of every hue continually assail the mind, one can never lose sight of genuine answers and the route to discernment. For such a mind, to align one's antennae with the signposts leading to correct answers is now not as difficult as it was before. Once false is known, one only needs to steer clear of it. More seriousness is needed to avoid unknown pitfalls and quick retreat from cul­de­ sacs; a sequestering of oneself from familiar concepts, plebeian customs, mindless cultural extravagance, certain types of close associates, the untutored among relatives and loved ones, to the extent of being ostracised or even getting hurt in the process. “Where does that leave us?” one would ask. Closer to the truth. A very lonely life? Not really so. There do exist birds of the same feather. They are not monkey see, monkey do. They are busy, and never consider themselves lonely. Living, for them, becomes a pleasure. Whether traveling or resident, they use every Expressions Magazine

legitimate resource to ensure that the means becomes a bridge to the destination, not an end in itself. They are, basically, travelers; and you see many without provision sometimes.

For them, as for any enlightened, truly educated person, to live and breathe, to stay or go, to distance oneself, or go all out to help are programmed not by oneself, although it surely seems undeniable that such decision leading to the action chosen is out of one's own volition.

However, there are sudden pop­ups saying how can mankind then be to blame? (refer to Aqeeda Tahawiyya) The vehement questions, there must be an answer to everything, or where do all answers end? Automatically beg another question, “Is mankind entitled to all answers?” Does man imagine he has the strength to even think of entitlement when he eventually becomes a puny weakling close to death, as he was during birth? It surely behooves a sensible person to look to a single, higher, more powerful and invincible being, worthy of befriending and aligning with, to acquire eternal life, the unexplainable truths and knowledge that man aspires to. A truly almighty power needing no help or associates, at whose command a thing lives, blossoms or perishes; moves or stays put – the mightiest power overwhelming the entire universe. Which brings to mind one's own entity, status, frailty; for what fool is there who denies the reality of death? November 2009 | 15


Except the insane, infant or ignorant completely? Human life is too intricate and precious a creation to disintegrate completely. It is reflective or an enlightened mind that one is destined for even higher achievements that whatever was the limit in one's earthly strivings. In this higher stage of awareness, one will discover that evil is nothing but mischief wrought: in other words deliberate confusion and concealment of truth. So by identifying false as mischief one has, therefore, come several degrees closer to finding the route and identifying the terms leading to eternal success. Only those filled with pride, and fear of losing their lifestyle, will deny the pathway, and rally around the falsehood of transient pleasures leading to eternal loss, darkness and despair. What

person

would

Expressions Magazine

decline

a

delicious meal, or compromise with filthy food if he can avoid it? You are what you eat is a famous health saying, although often misconstrued so that one would frivolously consider oneself to be an apple or a hen or a lamb. It actually refers to affinity余 for haven't we heard about good or bad company, or the clarion call that we need to follow the best example of humanity, Muhammad, on whom be salutations, to reach that blessed destination, and the height of man's eternal achievement without incident or foolish lapses?

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The Mystic Fisherman

By Tavis Adibudeen

Once, while traveling through Tunisia, a student of divine guidance was told to meet with a very respected and well足renowned holy man. At the time of our story, the student, named Muhammad, was told that the holy man was living as a fisherman in a simple mud hut on the beach. Unfortunately, this holy man was suffering from a bit of spiritual fatigue. He had spent decades of his life initiating himself in various methodologies of spiritual realization with hopes that he would finally achieve the highest levels. He prayed, fasted, performed seemingly endless sessions of dhikr (chants in remembrance of God), but nothing seemed to work.

Expressions Magazine

This particular guide was also a strict zahid (ascetic), eschewing all worldly pleasures and focusing all of his attention on the Divine. Many spiritual traditions have similar customs that are meant to cleanse the soul of attachments to the world. But despite his attempts, the fisherman could find nothing to satisfy his longing soul. He had even taken to eating fish heads. Instead of each the body of the fish, he would eat only the head and give the rest away to others. Finally, frustrated with his inability to reach the highest levels, he sent Muhammad to meet with his own teacher, for surely the teacher of the holy man would have the answer. November 2009 | 17


student, saying only, "Yes."

Muhammad continued, "He has asked for your spiritual advice..." The teacher interrupted, needing no further explanation. "Tell him that if he continues to be so attached to the world, he's never going to get anywhere."

Muhammad traveled to the house of the great teacher in hopes of alleviating the suffering of the fisherman. But when he arrived at the teacher's house, he was shocked. It was a virtual palace! He had huge beautiful gardens, amazing architectural design, flowing streams and fountains, and servants waiting on him at every turn.

At first he was sure he had the wrong house. Surely the teacher of a pious ascetic holy man would not live in such luxury. Therefore, he asked one of the servants if it was indeed the house of the great teacher, and the servant responded that it was. Muhammad shrugged his shoulders in dismay and proceeded onward to the teacher, who was riding a large beautiful Arabian horse and wearing a stunning white turban. Muhammad called to him, "You have a student in Tunisia, no?"

The teacher halted his horse's gallop and gazed down at the meek Expressions Magazine

Muhammad was shocked by this answer, coming from one who lived like a prince. When he returned to Tunisia, he found the fisherman, who promptly asked what his guide had told him to do. Muhammad told him that his teacher had told him not to be so attached to the world. At this point, the fisherman began to cry, for he understood what his teacher had revealed. "By God, I have tried with all sincerity to achieve the highest levels of spiritual awareness and have convinced nearly everyone that I am a true ascetic, but my teacher saw through to my heart without even meeting with me." Muhammad was stunned. do you mean?"

"What

The fisherman put down his net and slumped over a stump. "For all of these years, I have consumed fish heads, faining to be a holy man, but in reality, I secretly desired to eat the whole fish. My teacher has wealth, servants, and luxury, but he desires none of it and only desires to be with God."

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Expressions Magazine Nov 09  

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