Thursday, 23 December 2010

Clash of Civilisations?

Dear Friends

I have realised that one of my functions if not specialities and joys is 'Bridge Building'...
Consequently I deteste the 'Clash of civilisations' discourse which is really a clash of a
couple of deranged egos.

Why can there be not be a 'Clash of Ideas' or 'Clash of Love' ?

Yes there will be challenges and misunderstanding but let us remember that what is at stake is bigger than any religion namely HUMANITY.  And Allah operates via Human Beings not Angels!

As my Sufi Teacher counselled me brilliantly about a decade ago; practice of Shariah will make you into a Muslim but practice of Sufism / Taswuff / Ihsan will make you into an Insaan / HUMAN BEING...

''O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female,
and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other
(not that ye may despise (each other).

Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is)
the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).''
(Surah 49:Verse 13)


Light Houses...

Dear Friends

Begin the New Year as you intend to do so...For we are all Light Houses in the making...

Shine good will to all especially your adversaries...

Allah Dil meraye ander...Allah is in my heart...

Yaa Haq!


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Baby Logic!

Dear Friends
As 2010 draws to a close, and the Islamic New Year has begun, I am deeply reflecting about the last 12 months of my life.
There have been many momentous changes but the greatest was when I became a Dad. Zahra is the love of my life and it is such a joy to see this angelic flower unfold before my eyes. She is such a bundle of magic and laughter and has permanently scented mine and Robina’s lives. Mashallah.
Zahra if not every baby’s greatest asset is their innate motivation which knows no bounds. It is amazing that tears and tumbles do not stop her from moving forward. Whether it is learning to talk or sit she never gives up. Amazing!
So why does this innate motivation wither away as we grow older? Is it social conditioning? Or is it self-doubt? Whatever it is I augur that one of the functions of any authentic spiritual path is to take the aspirant back to that pure innate motivation. Inshallah.
Now I appreciate one of my all time favourite Sufi metaphors – The never giving up Salik / Spiritual Traveller. He or she falls down but gets up and keeps going...

Keep walking...


Friday, 17 December 2010


Dear Friends
Today I attended a stunning workshop  that discussed various topics in Higher Education. One of the presentations began with a power point slide with pictures of the following giants:

Albert Einstein
Leonardo Divinci
Helen Keller
Thomas Edison
and Stephen Hawking.

And the following question was posed.

What do these people have in common?
Answer - All have or had some form of mental or physical disability.

With the exception of Stephen Hawking I was amazed about the others…
Moral of the story…Never underestimate anyone…

Ps - Just imagine what cloth the great mystics and prophets were cut from!!!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

An Idea...

Dear Friends

''What's the most resilient parasite?
A single idea from the Human Mind can
Build cities.
An idea can transform the world
And rewrite all the rules….''
Inception - The Movie.

Thats why scientists, poets, mystics, prophets, artists always turn this world upside down...And consequently the pen is always mightier then the sword or a B52 bomber or any suicide bomber...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

When the chips are down...

Dear Friends

We have a great English phrase when one is facing challenges - when the chips are down...

What to do?

Well dial up a Zen Roshi...Or a Sufi Master...or better still:

When your bow is broken
And your last arrow spent
Then shoot


Friday, 10 December 2010

What is a dream?

Dear Friends

I deeply love the following Zen Experience by Chuang-Tse:

“I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?”

Perhaps the solution is:

“You will always find an answer in the sound of water''.
Ps - Have a great weekend...

Thursday, 9 December 2010

True Islam...

Dear Friends
A living Sufi Master residing in Sweden has elegantly said that:
''I am nothing but a little particle of the cosmos, a dust in the eyes of the eternal. I am a plant. I am you''.
The above is a mode of being which the true Islam is not something constricted by time or place or culture.
Unfortunately very few Muslims (as is the case in other religious traditions) will achieve this however these highly evolved folk  are the equivalent of millions if not billions who ensure the merciful flow of divine love / light…

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Human Capital...

Dear Friends
I just spent a wonderful train journey accompanied by one of my students. He was very candid and was sharing his hopes and dreams which took on a higher poignancy as his grandmother had just passed away last weekend.
I was deeply struck by his urgency to make sense of his existence and become 'someone' considering he is only a tender 18 year old. I assured him that he had a challenging journey ahead of him and ultimately it was a great attitude rather than a stunning aptitude that was the key to worldly and otherworldly success regardless of the state of the global / national economy or inequality. Since everything in life is about communication and dealing with people.
Upon further reflection it occurred to me that great Prophets and Mystics, perhaps even business leaders, were and remain excellent 'people persons' if not 'people-olics'. Since it is people who carry the message or brand forward not spreadsheets or titles…Human Capital is the real strength if not critical success factor of any organisation…

 I am reminded of the Buddhist sage Ryunsoke satarop who beautifully stated:
'Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”


Monday, 6 December 2010


Dear Friends
I have realised that 'surrender ' which is the cornerstone of Muslim faith is really letting goIn fact jumping off the precipice into the UNKNOWN.
Granted on the surface this appears to be anti-rational and there is undoubtedly a loss of individuality as you surrender control. However if you want to make / write history or build cathedrals or to merely live a meaningful life then you have to let the divine in…
Consequently I adore the A.A prayer:
Dear Lord, 
I admit that I am powerless over my addiction I admit that my life is unmanageable when I try to control it. Help me this day to understand the true meaning of powerlessness.  Remove from me all denial of my addiction.


God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Change the things I can, And the ability to know the difference...



Dear Friends
I was unable to access my computer / the internet due to the big freeze in England last week. I vividly remember being momentarily shell-shocked when I discovered that I could not make it to work as all direct trains had been cancelled.
I attempted to travel via another city but thankfully my Subject Group Leader called to inform me that teaching had been suspended and I should go home.
Routines are good and ensure stability however they can dampen vitality and creativity. Thus I used this A.O.G (Act of God) to re-connect more deeply with my baby daughter and spouse.
To really enjoy the company of a baby you have to transform into a baby which I found deeply rewarding. Everything is about smiling and giggling! It was good to catch up with my wife and discuss our hopes and dreams. She found my 'pottering around OK! I also found simple things as sleeping deeply rewarding…
As the great Albert Einstein remarked:
Everything should be made as simple as possible, not simpler'.
“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; from discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”