The Hope Forum

The Hope Forum

Welcome to The Hope Forum
Imagine a desert. That is our world. A desert of hatred, suspicion, violence and despair. Imagine wandering in this desert, throat parched, fearing enemies all around, nearing the end of your strength and just as you think you can’t go any further, you see an oasis. That is The Hope Forum. It is an oasis in the desert.
What does an oasis have that the desert doesn’t? Life giving water, shade giving trees, fruit to eat, grass to lie down on and gaze at the sky through the fronds of the trees, listening to the birds singing in the trees, the croaking of frogs on lily pads and the occasional plop of the Kingfisher when he dives for the unwary fish. The scorching life sucking wind of the desert, cools down and becomes the cool breeze that’s now wafting over your face. That is what breaking its force in the wind breaks and passing over water and does to it. It cools it down.
What else do oases do? They attract rain clouds. What’s the good of that in a desert? Have you ever seen a desert after the rain? For a brief span the desert blooms. The bleak, parched landscape turns overnight into a carpet of green and flowers. That’s not because flower seeds rain out of the sky. It is because every desert has in it, seeds of flowers. All it takes is some rain to make them grow. So eventually if oases grow and multiply – lo and behold – no more desert.
That is what we hope The Hope Forum will do. Give sustenance and life to those exhausted of traveling in the desert. Let them drink crystal clear, clean, cold water; eat sweet fruits, listen to birdsong and rest on the grass. Let them meet. Listen to each other. And think of how to create more oases.
If we can do this together and if we can do this enough, then a day will come, when people of the world will take charge of their destiny and wrench it back from those who control it today. The people of the world will put more value on life than on death, on virtue than on vice, on compassion than on cruelty, on justice than on greed. Then and only then can the wars end. Refugees will go back home. People will smile once again. TSA guys will have to look for gainful employment and our children will read about how the world was saved, because their elders broke the cycle. The cycle of hatred. The cycle of suspicion. The cycle of violence.
The Hope Forum is a place that the injured from Twitter, Facebook and other social media can come, to detox and cure themselves from the negativity of the world. There’s much good happening in the world that gets no lift. Bad news sells. So we’ll give each other good news for free. And you’ll be automatically chucked out if you post anything negative. The rule for this forum will be that only productive and positive things can be shared. Nothing negative. No criticism of anyone or anything. No praising yourself. Praise others and let others praise you. No pontificating, no proselytizing. No promoting of any particular religion, ideology, politics, shop, product, service or yourself. Only appreciating what others are doing. Let others speak about your work while you do it quietly and sincerely because you believe in it and in yourself. The Hope Forum is something that seeks to change the whole culture of social networking which is simply another name for self-promotion and one-upmanship. We have nothing against any religion, ideology, politics, shop, product, service or yourself. Just that if you want to promote any of this go somewhere else. This is not the place for it.
The Hope Forum is about promoting others. Showing the world how many good people there are, in every country, every nationality, every race, who are working quietly to make this world a better place. Your job as a Hope Forum member is to find them and tell the world about them through The Hope Forum. That is if you want to join.
Share a good song, story, picture, thought, dream, idea. But only good, only positive, only thankful, only appreciation. Tell all of us who are with you on The Hope Forum, what you liked, appreciated and recall with pleasure.

This is my first post. It is about this young man I saw in Pune – Samir Key Maker. Samir is a very Indian name and can belong to someone from any religion. Mohammed Samir (my nephew), Samir Joshi (a very good friend), Samir Singh, Samir Joseph. So Samir represents Indian youth to me. The best in Indian youth. A symbol of courage and confidence. He doesn’t just sit there on the pavement. He announces who he is. He has his phone number on the sign so that people can call him if they don’t have the time to stop by. He has a white sheet on which the tools of his trade are set out. What does a white sheet signify? To me it signifies quality. He is saying, “Look at my sheet and see if it is clean to decide what the quality of my work is going to be.” Now that is a statement of great confidence. His sheet is spotless. If you meet him, tell him I remember him. He doesn’t know me. But I know him. I remember him. I honor him. And I tell the world about him.  Samir is the symbol of hope. 

If you want to share a problem, a pain, a complaint; then reflect on it and think of a solution. Then share it with the solution. So the only problems we will allow are problem definitions of solutions. As someone said, ‘Every problem has at least two possible solutions. Do not enter this room until you have thought of both of them.’
The Hope Forum is open to everyone; any age, gender, religion or not, nationality, race, ethnicity, waist measurement, height, weight, strength; whether you can sing or croak, whether you can dance of shuffle, whether you can run or toddle, whether you are tall in your imagination or in people’s eyes, whether you can eat your cooking or others also can, whether anyone else loves you or not – we do. So join us. But read the condition below and stick to it.
The Hope Forum is open to everyone who accepts and agrees with our conditions of being a member i.e. good only, positive only, appreciation only, smiles only, solutions only.
No other conditions for joining.

October 20, 2016 is the day The Hope Forum was born. Long may it survive. Fast may it grow. And great may be the goodness it brings to all the world.


I will not allow what is not in my control, to prevent me from doing what is in my control.

Tiger, Tiger burning bright

Tiger, Tiger burning bright

There is a welcome awareness about the need to protect tigers in the wild and the wild places they live. Welcome even more because it comes now at a time when the tiger population in India (numbers are even more elusive and ephemeral than the tiger) has fallen from 100,000 in 1900’s to less than 3000 today.
Frankly, one needs to ask the question whether tigers in India can realistically be protected in the wild or whether one should look to a rescue plan rather than a protection plan.

Be that as it may I want to state here the major issues which have led to this situation and addressing and solving which is absolutely critical to protecting tigers. You will see that almost all of them have to do with people more than tigers. The two major issues are habitat destruction and the market for dead tigers.

1.    Habitat destruction:

a.    Our tiger reserves (except in one or two cases) are surrounded by villages. They cook on wood fires and the forest provides the wood. Our forest protection laws prevent them from cutting live trees, so they ring bark trees and cut them when they dry. Or they partially cut the tree and wait for the next wind to drop it and then they have their firewood. Human ingenuity, fueled by hunger and real need does wonders.

Deforestation in Tala village in Bandhavgarh

b.      Villagers have small fields in which they do marginal agriculture and grow food grains and vegetables for themselves as well as to make a small income. If they can cut a few forest trees in the adjacent forest and expand their land holding, it means free land and the wood from the cut trees as a bonus. It is amazing how many crimes become invisible when some of this largesse is wisely spread around.


c.     The fields and their produce is precious. It needs protection. In the old days before electricity came to the villages, the villagers used to build high platforms in the fields and sit up all night periodically beating tin cans to drive away any straying grazers or wild boar. After electrification, things became easier as was perhaps intended but not in this way. Villagers now simply hook a naked wire to the electric pole or their irrigation pump connection and string it at ankle height along the boundary of their land. Anything that comes into contact with it, fries. That way they can have a peaceful night’s sleep and perhaps a high protein meal the next day.

d.    Villagers are poor, have cattle to graze but no money to pay for the fodder. They can’t grow their own fodder and stall feed their cattle as they need their small fields to grow food grains. So they take their cattle into the forest to graze. Cattle eat the grass that otherwise prey species herbivores would have eaten. Cattle are cows, buffaloes and in many cases goats. This means that they feed on grass as well as leaves. Their dung of cows and buffaloes is carried out by the grazer as they dry it and use it as fuel, so it doesn’t add to the organic matter on the forest floor. The urine and dung of goats is highly toxic to plant growth. Cattle also carry foot and mouth disease (what politicians have is foot in mouth) and rinderpest which is highly infectious and lethal especially on Gaur. Cattle grazing in tiger land is like waving an ice cream cone under my nose – hard to resist a bite. Then the tiger is labelled ‘cattle lifter’ (instead of ‘cattle acceptor’) and pays for his hunger with his life.

Tiger territory marking with claw marks on trees and spraying urine
e.    Then there is the territory problem. Tigers are solitary territorial creatures who will fight to the death to defend their territories. If there is over crowding of sanctuaries, tiger populations decline. Given the huge tract of land an individual tiger needs, we simply don’t have the kind of area to support increasing tiger populations. So relocation, captive breeding and new sanctuaries are all options that must be explored. Young tigers seeking to establish their own territories will travel. This exposes them to temptation (cattle killing) and to poachers. Animals adapt to changing situations but the tiger has far more difficulty than its much smaller cousin, the leopard. And the day will never come when traveling tigers will thumb rides on trucks on the highway.

2.    Market for dead tigers: The market for tiger bone powder, skin (not so much today) and body parts. Tiger bone powder is more expensive than gold, precious stones or any illegal narcotic drug. It is easy to conceal and transport and easy to sell for those who have the contacts. Killing a tiger is easy. Poisoning is the most usual way. Then the rest follows. http://bit.ly/1PsPk3g National Geographic Tiger Temple, Thailand investigation. This is the natural result of the market for tiger products. For them the tiger is like a sheep in a farm. Or a chicken. You don’t object when it is slaughtered and its body chopped up and sold. So why do you object if it is a tiger? A farm is a farm. What is on the farm is not the issue. It exists for profit. There is a market. So the trade will continue. That is the logic. Try beating that logic. The tiger in the wild is even better because it cost the seller nothing to raise and it still fetches the same money. The trade is not in skins any more. It is in meat, bone and body parts. Which means that hiding it is even easier.

Solution:
Sariska blue bull which was nosing around a packet of Lays potato chips. See the eczema on his neck
1.    All people have to be removed from tiger sanctuaries. All villages must be relocated. Much more difficult option is temples inside sanctuaries as there is in Sariska. But without relocating, the temple traffic and all its attendant evils can’t be controlled. The amount of plastic and garbage in Sariska all along the route to the temple and at the temple itself is incredible. I saw a Neelgai bull trying to get into an empty Lays potato chips packet. I am sure he managed and then swallowed it and eventually died of obstruction of his intestine. Who cares?
2.    Then we have to kill the trade. That is what funds poaching and makes it lucrative. As I said, tiger bone powder is more valuable than any precious metal, illegal drug or precious stone. As long as that market remains, there is a price on the head of every tiger.                        
3.    A time is coming soon when tigers will only be left in zoos. That is why captive breeding programs are important. And then reintroduction into the wild.
4.    We need a combination of habitat conservation with very tough laws that are actually implemented, very tough policing with shoot to kill orders on poachers, liberal compensation paid instantly for every domestic animal that is PROVEN to have been killed by a tiger, education about conservation in every school and college and connection with forests built into the education of all our children.


5.    I don’t mean going to sanctuaries and zipping around in Gypsies – which if I had my way, I would totally stop – but actually walking in the bush, camping at night, sleeping under the sky, reading sign, photography and sketching, learning jungle lore. That is what builds a connection. Not the TIGER SHOW that happens in our sanctuaries – which is so embarrassing and idiotic that it is not funny at all. Twenty Gypsy vehicles, with people dropping out of the sides and a tigress walking nonchalantly past threading her way through all the chattering monkeys. Ugh!! If I were a tiger, I would commit suicide.

Tadoba Tiger Show, Ugh!!

6.    It will be conservationists, hopefully supported by a live media which has a chance of making an impact on tiger conservation. With habitat destruction and the trade in tiger parts, it is a losing battle. Local people must see how protecting tigers will put food on their table and money in their pockets. Only then will they be allies.                   
7.    All of the above can be tackled but the pressure of population and vote banks is the biggest threat. Politicians always want to appease their voters. They have to. You can’t blame them. That is their bread, butter and lots of jam. They need to be educated that the survival of the tiger is vital because with them will survive the forests and show them how that will still get them elected. Don’t ask me how. But that is critical. Until we can show a direct link, they will not support the tiger against their vote bank. Sadly, tigers don’t vote. People do.
I hope that by the time our politicians can be educated, there will still be tigers left to save. Indian forests without the tiger will be like a body without a soul. Dead.


Marriage Evils

Today it is tragic to see that Muslim weddings in our city seem to be devoid of any commitment to Islam. They have instead become famous for ostentation, vulgar display of wealth and wasteful expenditure. That too when we as a community are among the most economically backward and deprived of all people. To see the wealthy among us displaying such a colossal lack of concern for the deprived, by spending lakhs and crores on weddings while poor Muslims suffer untold miseries is something that is designed to attract the anger of Allah.


According to the statistics for 2014-15, Hyderabadi Muslims spent Rs. 4000 crores on catering and hall rental for weddings. The actual amount spent will be far higher as we all can guess. How will we answer Allahwhen we meet Him as we surely must? Meanwhile our divorce and separation rate is three times that of any other community in the country. So obviously our spending is not bringing us any happiness. I am not saying that divorces are only because of spending. They are also the result of the almost total lack of upbringing of our children, the total lack of Akhlaaq, the very little connection with Allah and His Deen. Our insane spending in marriages is an indicator of a much deeper malaise which is destroying our community.

See these statistics: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/565190/more-women-divorced-india-report.html

Allah honored the marriage by calling it one of His signs. He said:


Rum 30: 21. And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may find tranquility in them, and He has put between you, love and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.

Marriage in Islam is an act of worship because if it is done according to the Sunnah of Rasoolullah it is something that Allah will reward us for. The key is to ensure that we do it in accordance with the Sunnah.

Abdullah ibn Mas’udtreported that Rasoolullah said to us: O young men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he who cannot afford it should fast for fasting is a means of controlling sexual desire. [Tirmidhi]

In this Hadith and in several others, it is clear that marriage is the responsibility of the man who must make arrangements to contract it according to his means. It is not the responsibility of the girl’s parents to worry about her marriage or to incur any expenses in this connection. This is the cardinal difference between the Islamic way and that of others, where the woman and her parents are freed of this responsibility.

Abu Hurairah (R) narrated from Rasoolullah who said: “A woman may be married for four things: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her religious commitment. Seek the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).” [Bukhari & Muslim]

It is clear from this Hadith that though you may look for the other three things in a spouse, what you should choose her/him for is religious commitment over and above anything else.
It is the rich who set the trend. And it is thanks to them that middle class and poor Muslim parents are pressured to spend more than they can afford for the weddings of their children. As a result, one of the biggest problems in Muslim society is that of indebtedness – inability to pay back interest bearing loans. Even more tragic is the fact that in most cases it is women who pressure their men folk to spend money on all kinds of customs and practices which have nothing to do with Islam. 

The only purpose is to ‘impress’ others with the degree of Jahaalat that one can achieve and the constant refrain is, ‘What will people say?’ Allah called ostentation and ostentatious spenders the brothers of Shaytaan.



(Garland for the bridegroom being brought in by a crane in a Hyderabadi wedding)

He said:
Isra 17: 27 Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayateen and the Shaytaan is ever ungrateful to his Rabb.
Add to this the evil of dowry which we have adopted with the result that men have no shame in demanding it and parents of the bride are forced to cough up the ransom for their daughter. We have all kinds of shameless ways of asking for it. Dowry is Haraam. Asking for it is either begging or extortion and makes you a Bhikari (beggar) or a highway robber. I ask the parents of brides, ‘Why do you want to marry your daughter to a beggar or bandit? Then there are demands on the bride’s family for ‘fat’ weddings with all kinds of unislamic customs like Manja, Sanchak, Mehndi, Sangeet, Dholak and the pressure on the bride’s family to host a dinner on the day of the Nikah.
All these customs are against Islam, add to the expense and make the wedding a source of great suffering for the bride’s family. In addition, all these customs are against Islam and sinful to say the least.

Compare this to the Islamic way: The man or his family send his proposal to the bride’s family. The man and bride meet face to face and decide if they want to marry. The amount of Mehar is decided among them which the man has to pay. The Nikah takes place in the masjid. Then the man hosts a Walima (meal in celebration of his wedding) on the same or next day. The bride’s family incurs no expense at all. The man incurs whatever expense he wishes as the Walima is his responsibility. And all this happens simply, with dignity and in accordance with the Law of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger. Such a marriage is blessed and its results can only be good.

We believe the time has come for all people with a conscience to raise their voice against these evil practices. Whether or not you are religious, it is our duty to refuse to support these social evils.

For this it is essential that we do three things:

1. When we have a wedding in our family ensure that it is strictly according to the Islamic way which I have described above. In that alone there is Khair, the blessing of Allah and the honor of the Sunnah of Rasoolullah.

2. When you are invited to a wedding, ask about what is happening there. If there is any unislamic custom, don’t go. Tell them clearly that you will not attend because the wedding is not according to Islam. Don’t make an excuse. Say clearly that you are against unislamic weddings as you are a Muslim and so will not attend.

3. It is especially important that Ulama and opinion leaders don’t attend because their attendance becomes a proof for people that what they are doing is correct. When Ulama don’t attend and tell people why they are not attending, people stop to think and InshaAllah this can bring about change. One argument in support of Ulama attending unislamic weddings that I heard takes the cake. Someone said, ‘If we don’t attend people will do even worse and they will dance naked.’ Not my words but the words that I was told.

4. My submission is that this argument goes directly against the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Allah said about supporting good and not supporting evil:

Ma’aida 5: 2 Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.

Rasoolullah said: Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (R) said: I heard Rasoolullah say, “Whoever sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

Please see this Ayah and Hadith and tell me where is the permission to participate in a gathering where the laws of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasoolullah is being broken and remain silent and benefit from the meeting? The only justification, especially for Ulama to go to unislamic weddings would be to stop whatever is happening there which is unislamic. Needless to say, that would create an even bigger Fitna. And so the only choice they have is to boycott such events and tell people why they are boycotting them. If not, they will become the proof that people will use to commit Haraam and they will be answerable before Allahfor that.

There are two stages that a person goes through in life – the wedding and the funeral. That is why in Hindi and Urdu – we have the same word with a slight difference, for the traditional vehicle of the bride which symbolizes the moving from one state to another – doli and dola.

I ask you, will you accept a funeral with a band and dancing before the Namaz-e-Janaza? Why then do you accept a wedding with bands, dancing, free mixing of men and women, ostentation and vulgar display – all against Islam?

All social change starts with one person – me. So take this decision that you will not attend a wedding which is not in accordance with Islam. Tell others about it. And stick to it. Don’t go even if it is the wedding of your closest relative. And if anyone talks about family ties, please tell him/her that our ties with Allah and Rasoolullahtake precedence over all other ties. Allaheven ordered us to disobey parents if they order us to disobey Him. So where is the question of doing thing to anger Allahto please anyone else?

Islam seeks to make Nikah easy and Zina (fornication) difficult. We have turned this on its head and then we wonder why there is so much corruption in society.

Abu Hurayrah (R) said: Rasoolullah said: “If someone whose religious commitment and attitude pleases you proposes marriage, then marry [your female relative under your charge] to him. If you do not do that, there will be tribulation in the land and much corruption.” (Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah, Sahih by Albani).

Hazrat Aaisha (Radiyallahu Anha) reports that Rasoolullah said: “The Nikah with the most Baraka is that Nikah wherein the least expense was incurred.” (Musnad Ahmad)

The primary responsibility to ensure that no unnecessary expenses are incurred and that nothing is done which is against Islam is that of the bride and groom. NOT OF THE PARENTS. If you don’t think you are old enough to stand up for your Islamic duties, then you are not old enough to get married. Obedience to parents or anyone else comes AFTER obedience to Allah and Rasoolullah. Neither your parents nor anyone else is going to come into your graves with you. You will be there alone and you will answer why you allowed unnecessary expenses and unlawful practices to be done in your marriages. How do you expect Baraka in your married life, the help of Allah, good children, happy relationships and prosperity and safety when you did everything possible to anger Allah during your marriage? Get real people. Stop fooling yourself. You are not fooling anyone else. So please grow up or remain unmarried. It is as clear as that.

Narrated Anas bin Malik (R): Rasoolullah saw the trace of yellow on ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf (R) Rasoolullah asked him: What is this? He replied: Ya Rasoolullah I have married a woman. He asked: How much Mahr did you give her? He said: A nawat weight of gold. He said: Hold a Walima, even if only with a sheep. (Sunan Abu Dawud; Sahih, Albani)

This shows that when he got married not only did he not host a meal inviting his friends on the day of the Nikah but he did not even invite Rasoolullahand Rasoolullah didn’t know that he had got married until the next day. This is not an indication of lack of Adab. It is an indication that the Nikah is to be a simple ceremony without any party after it. 

Rasoolullah told him to give a Walima which he did. That shows that the Walima is the responsibility of the groom and not the bride or her family.

Finally, please remember that if we, especially the wealthy among us, don’t change our ways, then we will invite the Adhaab of Allah. It is in this connection that Allah warned us and told us that we are the architects of our own destruction. He said:

Ra’ad 13: 11   Verily! Allah will not change the good condition of a people as long as they do not change their state of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah).

And He warned the wealthy among us, especially and said:

Isra 17: 16.   And when We decide to destroy a town (population), We (first) send a definite order (to obey Allah and be righteous) to those among them who are given the good things of this life. Then, they transgress therein, and thus the word (of torment) is justified against it (them). Then We destroy it with complete destruction.

Allah promised to punish those who insist on disobeying Him. Allah’s orders are for our benefit. When we obey Him we create a beautiful society that is beneficial to everyone. If we disobey Him, we harm ourselves in this life and attract His anger and punishment. Allah said:

An’am 6: 44     So, when they forgot (the warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened to them the gates of every (pleasant) thing, until in the midst of their enjoyment in that which they were given, all of a sudden, We took them to punishment, and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regret and sorrow.

Please remember that you are the most important person in the world and all change begins with you. So first of all if you took a dowry, calculate it in today’s money and return it to your wife. Let her give it to her family or keep it. It was Haraam for you to take it and so return it. Do this for all the material stuff you took also. Calculate the value in today’s terms and return it. Then make Tawba for whatever you did or allowed to happen in your marriage that was against the orders of Allah and the Sunnah of Rasoolullah. Free Tawba is not accepted. You have to compensate people for your oppression before you seek forgiveness of Allah. So please do this. And do it immediately. And it you feel reluctant about it, then remember that when you meet Allah this compensation will be extracted from you and that will be far more expensive. I don’t wish that on you under any circumstances. Thank Allah that He kept you alive and gave you an opportunity to make Tawba. Don’t squander that. Make Tawba and return what you took.

Remember that you will not be asked, ‘What happened?’ You will be asked, ‘What did you do?’

So don’t allow what is not in your control to prevent you from doing what is in your control.

Wedding Khutba

All praise and thanks to Allah the Rabb of the universe. Salam on His Messenger and his family. To begin, Allah said:
وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
Rum 30: 21. And among His Signs is this, that He created for you spouses from amongst yourselves, that you may find tranquility in them, and He has put between you love and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for people who reflect.
It was the Sunnah of Rasoolullah to advise newlyweds about their forthcoming life together as man and wife. In this advice are also reminders for us, their family and friends, wed and unwed. I will therefore request your attention.
Allah called the marriage one of His signs. The purpose of a sign is to remind you of the original. The sign shows the way, the direction. Let our marriages display this sign, the sign that honors us as it reminds those who look at us of Allah. Let the marriage be celebrated as a reflection of the goodness of Islam. Let it reflect the Noor of the Sunnah of Rasoolullah. Let the marriage be a reminder that one day we have to meet Allah. Let the spouses each be the helper of the other in pleasing Allah. If you please Allah, Allah will please you. He will put love for you in the heart of the other, because that is something that only He can do. Rasoolullah said, ‘Allah loves the man who wakes up for Tahajjud and wakes up his wife. And Allah loves the woman who wakes up for Tahajjud and wakes up her husband.’ The result of Allah loving you is that the whole world will love you. This is the great secret of life; that love, dignity, respect (Muhabbah, Izzah) all come from Allahand He gives them only to the one who He is pleased with. So focus on pleasing Allah and you will find that the world is pleased with you.
Allah mentioned three qualities of the marriage which he honored by calling it His Sign; tranquility (Sukoon), love (Mawaddah) and mercy (Rahma). Today as we are all gathered to wish the best of lives in this world and the next for our dear children, let us reflect on what marriage means in the context that Allah defined it. All goodness can only come from obedience to Allah and following the Sunnah of His beloved Messenger.
The first term that Allahused is Sukoon (tranquility), which means harmony, understanding, lack of conflict. Allah said, ‘We created your mates from among yourself so that Li taskunu ilaiha’, ‘So that they may take Sukoon from it.’ Allah called this the very purpose of the marriage – so that you may take Sukoon from one another. A marriage in which there is no Sukoon is not a marriage.
So what is Sukoon? In the language it is the absence of movement – no Fatah, Dhamma, Kasra. Sukoon is the absence of movement away from the spouse in any way. No movement away from the spouse of the eyes, actions, heart, thought. Sukoon is the presence of an atmosphere of complete safety that requires no defences. Having some level of defence from people in general is a sign of emotional maturity. Transparency, spontaneity and openness is a good thing generally speaking but overdoing it with all and sundry can be detrimental in many ways. But with respect to the spouse, a good marriage is one where there is no need to have any defences between spouses. Remember that this will happen only when both people feel safe. When they know that lowering their defence will not result in hurt. It takes a lifetime to build this trust and one single instance to destroy it. This is the meaning of Sukoon; the freedom to be yourself in a safe environment without the anxiety to guard yourself against attack. Many people treat the married partner as a sparring partner and are always trying to score a knockout. That is a very shortsighted and stupid policy as you will never be able to lower your guard and will never have Sukoon in your life.
This situation of tension happens when there is competition. Competition for control, for attention, for affection. Spouses many times unconsciously, compete to show who is the boss. They compete for attention from others in the family. They compete for affection from children, parents and so on. This comes from a basic insecurity about yourself and your relationship with your spouse which you always feel is under threat and so you need constant reassurance. Sukoon is the result of one overriding principle; ‘How can I make my spouse happy?’ Goodness in marriage is the outcome of mutuality. Of mutual consideration. Of the mutual desire to go out of the way to please the other. This is the opposite of individualism. It is the opposite of the focus on gaining one’s happiness even if it is at the cost of the happiness of others. Remember that you have rights and you have duties.
Focus on rights and you will neglect your duties and be unhappy. Focus on duties and the rights will fulfill themselves. The duties of one are the rights of the other. It is the duty of the husband that he should cover his wife with love and mercy. It is his right that he should be obeyed. Allah said, ‘Ar rijaalu qawwamoona alan Nisa,’ ‘Men have been given authority over women.’ It is the duty of the woman that she should obey her husband and her right that he should treat her with respect, affection and dignity. If the woman fulfills her duty of obeying her husband, his right that he should be obeyed gets fulfilled. And if the husband covers his wife in love and mercy, her right that she should be treated with respect, affection and dignity will be automatically fulfilled. Focus on duties and not rights because you will be questioned about your duties, not about your rights.
Sukoon is the result of compassion, kindness and sensitivity. It is not the result of selfishness, self-centeredness and conceit. Sukoon is the result when you stop competing; for attention, for demonstration of love, for power and control. The married home is the harbor, not a boxing ring for you to score a knockout. It is the place of safety that the ship seeks when it returns from fighting the storms of life. What would be the fate of the ship which returns to find a new storm brewing in the harbor?
Remember that in a marriage all those who compete can only lose. You lose if you win and you lose if you lose. Everything in a marriage can decline; beauty, strength, power, influence; sometimes even money. But the only thing that not only doesn’t decline but actually increases over time in a good marriage is Sukoon. Sukoon is companionship without speaking, it is the communication in a look, it is the thought that transfers from one to another without any conscious effort.
It is magical to see one spouse completing sentences for the other; supplying names without even being asked; giving one something they had only thought about and hadn’t even asked for. Alhamdulillah I have the honor of being from a family where this was and is common and I am sure I am not alone in this. If there is one reliable sign of a good marriage, it is the amount of Sukoon. I wish all of you, great Sukoon in your marriages.
The second word that Allah used is Mawaddah – love. Love is not like. Like needs reasons. You like or dislike someone for something. But you love someone despite something. Love has no reason behind it. It is that Neymah from Allah which enables you to only see the good in the other and in the relationship. Love is reflected in this world in the relationship that a mother has for her child. A relationship which is blind to his faults. It is not that the mother is really blind to the faults but she loves the child despite his faults. Love is what characterizes our relationship with Allah. Allahloves us not because we are particularly lovable. But because we are His creation. He loves us not because of but inspite of our faults. We ask Allah to forgive us not because we deserve it but because He loves us. Love has no reason but itself. Love has no logic but itself. Love is fulfilled by itself, not by the response it gets. Truly blessed are those who can love and truly blessed are those who are loved.
Love needs to be expressed. It is expressed by showing appreciation and giving thanks. Thanks to Allah who gave you a spouse who is good to you and thanks to the spouse who adds value to your life. Love is expressed by giving the other precedence in fulfilling her needs and preference over what you want for yourself. Love is expressed in being a mirror to the spouse; giving critical feedback with care. Love is expressed in listening to that critical feedback without taking offence, knowing that it comes from a sincere and genuine concern for your welfare. Love is expressed in sharing your hopes and aspirations, fears and apprehensions. Love is expressed in taking an interest in things that interest your spouse, in giving him/her space to aspire to excellence in their field and in taking the pressure that this may put on your married life. Love is expressed most of all by standing in the night before Allah and making dua for your spouse.
To love your spouse is to love them at the time when they are not particularly lovable, because that is the time when they need love. To love your spouse is to find joy in looking at them, talking to them, simply being with them.  To love your spouse is to love those he/she loves. Love needs no reason. Love is not for what the person says, or does or gives. Love is for what the person is, what he or she means to you. Love needs no words to be expressed and indeed all the ‘I love you’ in the world can’t communicate love if it is not there. When it is there, it is like light; it permeates the darkness of loneliness, of grief, of despair. Love is unconditional. What is conditional is not love – it is self-interest pretending to be love. Allah called love something that He put between the spouses. It is His Neymah, His blessing, so cherish it, enjoy it and thank Him for it. Love is the sign of our connection with Allah. It is His gift and it is from Him. Thank Allah both for a spouse who reminds you of Allah and who makes you practice Sabr. Allahis with the Sabireen.
The last word that Allahused in this Ayatul Kareema is Rahma. Rahma is a quality and attribute of Allah Himself. In its highest form it is His name – Ar Rahmanur Raheem. The most merciful whose mercy never decreases and lasts forever. Allah honored the marriage by saying that He placed this quality in the marriage. Truly blessed are those who find it in their marriage and cherish it.
What is Rahma? Rahma is to return wrong with good. Good for good is justice. Evil for evil is justice. But good for wrong is mercy; Rahma. Allah is full of mercy because He continues to fulfill the needs of all; those who obey Him and those who don’t; those who please Him and those who anger Him. His Mercy encompasses all His creation. His Mercy permeates all His actions. His Mercy overrides His anger. He has written Mercy for Himself (6:54: Kataba Rabbukum ala Nafsihir Rahma) and we ask Him for His Mercy when we meet Him. We ask for His forgiveness, not because we deserve it but because He is Ar-Rahman.
Happy marriages are not made up of a set of perfect behavior from both spouses. Actually that expectation – holding others to a standard that you don’t apply to yourself – is the cause of conflict and unhappiness. Happy marriages are the result of forgiveness. Happy marriages are the result of a selective memory. A memory that remembers only the good and not the bad. A memory that doesn’t even keep junk in the folder for a month like most spam filters, but deletes it immediately; but retains every little good action or word permanently in the RAM; instantaneous random recall. So I wish you all memory that retains only good. Mercy is forgiveness. Mercy is the basis of forgiveness. We need mercy because we need forgiveness. Mercy is to honor all those times when the spouse did all that could be expected and more and to remember this when they are no longer able to do it anymore. Mercy shows that we are not merely transactional beings like animals who respond as long as they are being fed but that we have the nobility never to forget any good that came to us from the other. Mercy is the light of the face and the expanse of the heart. Mercy is the quality that Allahblesses those He loves with; so that they do what they expect Him to do for them. Mercy is Allah’s special attribute and that which He blessed Rasoolullahwith when He called him Rahmatul-lil-A’alameen. To have mercy is to ennoble yourself because mercy is about you, not about them.
I want to end with dua for both our children, Fatehma and Ali. I ask Allah to give you the greatest of strengths, Ta’alluq Ma’Allah; the greatest of wealth, Contentment with His Qadr; the greatest of Honor, following the blessed Sunnah of Rasoolullah.  I ask Allahto make your marriage full of Khair, full of His Ridha and the fulfillment of your dreams. I ask Allah to give you children who will be the coolness of your hearts and a credit to your name and a means of Sadaqatul Jaariya. I ask Allahto make you among those who never disobey Him and never go against the Sunnah of His Messenger Muhammad. I ask Allah to open your hearts to Hidaya from Himself and make you among those who will be living walking, talking Standard Bearers of Islam. I ask Allah to grant Hidaya to those you make dua for, to those you present Islam to, to those who you meet, to those you look at and to those who look at you. I ask Allah to guide you to make Tawba and to forgive your transgressions and to convert them to good deeds, as He promised to do.

I ask Allah to give you Khushoo in Salah and make it the sweetness of your life so that you look forward to it. I ask Allah to make you among those whose dua is never rejected and when you raise your hands in dua to accept it before you lower your hands. I pray that Allah makes each day of your life better than the previous day; the last of your deeds, the best of your deeds and the last day of your life, the best day of your life, when you will meet Him. I ask the same dua for all of you who are gathered here and for your families who may not be here. May Allahaccept my dua.

Voice Recording: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AmvJrLlWGmcWpTJP6-Rw2_nDuzCj


Turkey – History in the making

Please read this whole article. David Herst is a man of courage. Here are some extracts:
To defeat the coup, the Turkish president used his iPhone. Mosques used their loudspeakers, broadcasting the call to prayer hours before dawn. Political leaders of all creeds, some staunch opponents of the president, called unambiguously for the coup to be defeated. Policemen arrested soldiers.
Unarmed people recaptured CNN Turk and the bridges across the Bosphorus, braving gunfire to recapture democracy for their country.
This was unambiguously a military coup. And yet the US Embassy in Ankara in its emergency message to US citizens called it an “uprising”.
Geopolitical Futures released an analysis saying the coup was successful. BBC Arabic, Sky News Arabic, El Arabiya TV, the ITN diplomatic editor, the US networks were all running commentaries saying Erdogan was finished, or had fled to Germany.
The Guardian ran a piece whose first headline (it was later amended) said everything about an author unable to contain his glee at the demise of a man he qualified as authoritarian islamist: “How Recep Tayyip Erdogan inflamed tensions in Turkey”.
As the people of Turkey battled for their future, there was a crashing silence from Western leaders whose brand image is democracy. The French consulate had closed two days earlier. Did it know something Turkey did not?
In his initial statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry used every word except the dreaded “d” one. He hoped for “stability and peace and continuity” within Turkey.
Nothing about supporting a legitimately elected president and a legitimately elected parliament. Only when it was already obvious that the coup was failing did President Barack Obama and Kerry issue a statement unambiguously backing Erdogan.
If you want to know why Europe and the US are a busted flush in the Middle East, why they have lost all moral authority, indeed any authority at all, and why they are no longer the candle bearers of democratic change, look no further than the three hours of silence as they waited to see which way the wind was blowing in Istanbul and Ankara.
The Saudis waited 15 hours before issuing a statement supporting Erdogan. The Emiratis and the media they controlled spread the message that Erdogan had fled the country.
The exact opposite was the truth. Erdogan showed bravery getting into a plane and heading for Istanbul knowing F16s were in the air and that the runway at Ataturk airport could have been closed.
Only three countries in the world clearly supported Erdogan from the start – Morocco, Qatar, and Sudan.
What was particularly impressive were the statements of Turkish politicians who had every reason to want Erdogan to go, and who had themselves been displaced by him. To his credit, the leader of Turkey’s largest party, Kemal Kalicdaroglu of the centre-left People’s Republican Party (CHP), came out immediately against the coup in a series of tweets, saying the country has “suffered a lot” in past military takeovers.
Two AK Party leaders from the liberal wing, who had been displaced or recently sacked by Erdogan supported him. Former president Abdullah Gul told CNN Turk that “Turkey is not a Latin America country … I’m calling those who attempt to overthrow the government [they] should go back to their barracks.”
What you should know about Turkey’s President, Recap Tayyip Erdogan:
1. The Turkish economy between 2002 and 2012 caused a growth of 64% in real GDP and a 43% increase in GDP per capita.
2. Erdoğan inherited a debt of $23.5 billion to the IMF, which was reduced to $0.9 billion in 2012. He decided not to sign a new deal. Turkey’s debt to the IMF was thus declared to be completely paid and he announced that the IMF could borrow from Turkey.
3. In 2010, five-year credit default swaps for Turkey’s sovereign debt were trading at a record low of 1.17%, below those of nine EU member countries and Russia.
4. In 2002, the Turkish Central Bank had $26.5 billion in reserves. This amount reached $92.2 billion in 2011. During Erdoğan’s leadership. Inflation fell from 32% to 9.0% in 2004.
5. Under Erdoğan’s government, the number of airports in Turkey increased from 26 to 50.
6. Between 2002 and 2011, another 13500 km of expressway were built.
7. For the first time in Turkish history, high speed railway lines were constructed, and the country’s high-speed train service began in 2009. In 8 years, 1076 km of railway were built and 5449 km of railway renewed.
8. Erdogan put greater investments into the healthcare system than any predecessor. As part of the reforms, the “Green Card” program, which provides free health benefits to the poor.
9. Erdoğan increased Education spending from 7.5 billion lira in 2002 to 34 billion lira in 2011, the highest share of the national budget given to one ministry and number of universities in Turkey nearly doubled, from 98 in 2002 to 186 in October 2012.
10. In 1996 1$=222 Lira and in 2016  1$=2.94 Lira, even after the recent turmoil.
Today it seems that the Turks are the only people who have the potential to lead the Ummah. The Arabs have disintegrated. The Indian subcontinentals were never leaders of the Ummah in any case. Just local despots who had no global impact.
The encouraging thing in this whole drama was that even the opposition, including Kurdish leaders, came out in support of Erdogan. The Western media campaign is seeking to malign him once again by talking about his so-called autocratic nature because he stands up to them. Predictably they have no comments about the criminal Sisi and all the various Oil Tankers who are among the worst totalitarian psychopaths in the world. But since they are all subservient to them, they are silent about them and shamelessly give them military aid so that they can kill their people better and more efficiently. They are silent about the fact that these people routinely practice torture on prisoners and also outsource their own torture customers to them so that they can tell the world that torture on their soil is illegal and they are pure as driven snow. All the while their lackeys – all Muslims mind you – torture their prisoners – also all Muslim – on their behalf. WE STINK AND OUR LEADERS STINK HIGHEST.
Erdogan must be hated and maligned because he is the only one who threw off the IMF yoke. And forced Israel to allow aid into Gaza. The Ottomans first beat the hell out of Europe and then ruled it for 400 years and left an indelible mark. That is what the white man can’t stomach. So they hate him. They want lackeys who make Sujood to them instead of to Allah.
When people come out in response to the Adhaan and when they pray Fajr despite the chaos of a military uprising – they prayed Fajr on their flag as the musalla – then the help of Allah is إن شاء اللهُ    assured. We all saw the results.

Keep making dua. There is no power except the power of Allah and no help except the help of Allah. And as long as we are faithful to Him He will not deny us.

And proclaim the Grace of your Rabb

وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ
Duha: 93: 11. And proclaim the Grace of your Rabb

Yesterday we (in Hyderabad, India) had a massive storm with a 100 mph gale and heavy rain. 67 electric transformers burst all over the city. Trees were uprooted and fell across streets, blocking them and causing massive traffic jams. A huge unipole crashed and smashed three cars. We had no power for 12 hours and it is a herculean task that the electricity department did with great success in restoring it despite the damage and destruction to transformers, power lines and poles.

Where I live, we have a courtyard which has (had) a perspex canopy, bolted onto a steel frame, grouted into the concrete of the courtyard terrace. The wind ripped it off its moorings and deposited it at the other end of the terrace. Mercifully it crashed against a concrete pillar and stayed on our terrace.  Here is what it looks like now.



Near where the canopy fell is (was) a 5000 litre water tank which was filled to capacity at the time of the storm. That means it weighed 5 metric tonnes. This is what it looks like after the gale caught it:

In our flat, two floors below this we have an open balcony on one side. In the center of it is a Frangipani tree which is really two trees in one big brass pot, which I have been nursing for 6 years trying to get it to flower. But nothing happened until I was about to go to South Africa in April when it started showing some signs of life. Until then it had literally 10-12 leaves and not a single flower. When I returned in May, it was lush with leaves and bunches of white and red flowers. I was delighted that all the effort had finally paid off and we had this lovely tree on the balcony. Here is the photo I took after I returned.


Also on the same balcony we had some unwanted guests – a Feral pigeon mother with her two little chicks. Unwanted because pigeons are a menace in Hyderabad, aggressive, messy as hell and noisy and belligerent to boot. But being urbanized as they are, they take advantage of our absence and build their nest in our balcony and procreate. So when we returned we were greeted with the messiest of nests – just a few dry leaves strewn around – and the ugliest of babies you can imagine – pigeon chicks. Pigeons are the world’s worst nest builders. A pigeon nest is a joke if it is on someone else’s balcony and a never ending aggravation if it is on yours. The mess of dry leaves surrounded by pigeon poop is disgusting to put it politely. But this one had these two chicks in it, so much as I was tempted to chuck the whole lot into the garbage, I resisted and they were with us last night.

Then the gale hit us. As you can see, it ripped out a steel frame grouted into concrete and tore apart a water tank as if it were made of paper. 

My first thought was, ‘There goes my Frangipani and the lovely flowers. And goodbye little pigeon chicks.’ I was sure that there was no way that they could survive the gale and rain. They would be blown away, washed away or simply die of fright with the explosive thunder and lightning that turned night into day. There was nothing the pigeon mother could do except to save herself and so she slid into a gap between our folding balcony doors sandwiched between the glass and mosquito mesh. There she must have prayed to her Rabb for the safety of her brood. I could do nothing for her or her brood. I dared not go near where she was for fear that she would try to fly away in that gale which would surely have killed her. And I dared not open the balcony door to go onto the balcony to try to protect the chicks because the house would have filled with water. As it was, the balcony was like a lake, flooded with water.

The gale and rain eventually ended and when I could go out I went out and what did I see?

Here is what the pigeon chicks and their nest looked like: Everything dry. Not even a dry leaf blown away. Chicks safe and sound and that corner of the balcony dry, while everything else was flooded.

As for the tree, well, I will let the pictures speak for themselves. I have posted the picture of the tree I took on May 5 when I returned from South Africa. 

Here is what it looked like today after the storm:

You will notice that the lower bunch has more flowers in this photo than in the earlier one above as this was taken today, May 21, after the storm while the one above was taken on May 5 as I mentioned. Nothing happened to the tree or flowers.

Tawakkul is to still trust in Allahﷻ and that He can protect you when everything around you says the opposite. That is what I believe the pigeon mother did. And it is the result of her dua that her chicks and my tree were both safe.

I am sharing this to share my joy and sense of wonder at what I saw yesterday. Steel, hard moulded plastic grouted in concrete ripped away. Dry leaves, little chicks and flowers, intact.

وَمَا تَشَاؤُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاء اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا 
Insaan 76: 30. But you cannot will, unless Allah wills. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise.