Thursday, May 26, 2016

Week 3: The only thing to fear...

Dear Reader,
I give you...

"Metallica (The Black Album)" (1991)
"Enter Sandman"

"Now I lay me down to sleep
Pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I die before I wake
Pray the Lord my soul to take

Hush little baby, don't say a word
And never mind that noise you heard
It's just the beasts under your bed
In your closet, in your head"

Growing up in the 90's I remember blasting this track every time KROQ played it. This was the first time a heavy metal song went mainstream. For my reflective self, the above quote really struck me. A quick google search will tell you that it is an ancient prayer, steeped in wisdom. No wonder it struck a chord with me. If I may I would like to strike that same chord in you.

Can you imagine that each night we slip into a  coma? I am not being scientific here so don't quote me. But deep sleep is the closest thing to a coma that I have experienced. And yes we can go into the biological mechanisms that restore our energies and bring us out of sleep. But who controls that? If one day your body decides not to behave as expected, what will you do? Your family could call a doctor when they find you unconscious the next morning. But once the doctor has exhausted his bag of tricks, what else can you do? 

The point I am trying to make is that it is only by the grace of Allah that our bodies are restored. We know this through our beloved prophet, a living link to our creator. Read the following hadith

The Prophet said: “When a child of Adam gets up in the morning, all the limbs humble themselves before the tongue and say: ‘Fear Allah for our sake because we are with you: (i.e., we will be rewarded or punished as a result of what you do). If you are straight, we will be straight; and if you are crooked, we will become crooked’.” [Sunan al-TirmidhÄ«]

From my understanding, he has placed great emphasis on the first words uttered in the morning. How many times, including myself, have our first words been swear words? When the alarm blasts in your ears and you are startled out of your sleep do you have an angelic prayer on your lips? For the longest time, I didn't have a single positive thought after my lord had restored me from my sleep. How ungrateful indeed.

That's why my gameplan includes a morning chant, as soon as I get up I ensure that I recite alhumdullilah, subhanallah and allah-hu-akbar 10 times each. You can also add on the kalma if you like. This way you do justice to your body and create a positive mindset. Furthermore, this recitation automatically informs the rest of your day. I can tell you the days on which I don't do this are the days where my negativity skyrockets. I feel frustrated as to why things are not going my way. This is not a healthy attitude to have. I remember when I was In Amway I listened to a CD that said you should think about your business as soon as you wake up. I always felt that was wrong. Shouldn't we pay tribute to being restored shouldn't we crave serving our lord to show our gratitude?

To drive home the point imagine you are being restored from your grave. Who else but Allah has the power to do that? Certainly a fellow creation can't no matter how "powerful" e.g. boss, police, or head of state etc. They are dependent on their lord whether or not they admit it. We get confused we think because our boss signs our check he owns us and we must submit to him. That we must forget our other obligations and just work for him. Use our god gifted body, energies and talent to increase his bottom line. This is no way to live and it all stems from wrong thinking. 

A word of caution. Please do not misread me. I am not implying any rebellious actions. Just like you wouldn't want your kids disrespecting you,  please don't disrespect those with authority over you such as your boss the police and other public servants. If you have grievances work within the framework (if you are being oppressed with no legal recourse trust in Allah and console your community elders) to have them addressed.

What I am advocating is a mind shift. I implore you to reject the reality that has been imposed on you and use your spiritual awareness to decipher another reality. I submit to you that people who you depend on for a paycheck are simply a conduit for the sustenance that has already been written for you. This sustenance will reach you no matter what. Just like the angel of death seeks you so does your income. 

The reverse is also true. You have people who are dependent on you. Such as your children, spouse or elderly parent. In that case, never be arrogant. I am guilty in thinking very highly of myself that because of the hard work I did I was able to feed my spouse. If tomorrow I keel over and I am no longer able to "work hard" will she just shrivel up and die? I think not. When my father died in my late twenties I was fortunate enough to be able to start working. You can also prepare your family by making them more independent. Also making investments to generate automatic income is another great safety net. Don't go for life insurance though. A strange notion for sure but I will have more on that later.

The point being you are simply a conduit for your "dependents". The sustenance written for them will reach them no matter what. That's why you should never put off having kids for the sake of money. I know it sounds counterintuitive but just think about it. Not having kids will stunt your emotional development. Your sense of empathy and compassion for another human being will never be realized to its fullest potential until you cradle your own child against your chest. The love that will pour out of your heart will be felt by all.

Incidentally these are the very traits needed in a leader. People will line up to work for you if you can show that you truly do care. So ask Allah to increase your bandwidth. meaning increase your capacity as a conduit so that you become the source of sustenance for your dependents (this can include your employees as well).

All of this was circling in my head the week after giving my written resignation. Sure work was easy now as I had entered into my honeymoon stage. Nothing was expected of me and pretty much got paid to do nothing for another two weeks. Heck, they even threw me a party. But I knew I would be without a job/income within a matter of weeks. This is where fear gripped me. What if I ran out of money? What if I couldn't pay my landlord? etc. etc. These were valid concerns and the associated risks needed to be mitigated. The irrational primordial fear was counterproductive and whispers from the devil. I had to have more faith in Allah. I had to have faith in the talent he had gifted me. I had a fight on my hands. A struggle for survival where only the strong survive.

Want to know what happens next? Tune in next week! This is your brother reminding himself out loud. If you found something beneficial it was from Allah. If I have said something wrong it is my shortcoming and I ask your forgiveness. Saqinator out!
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