Thursday, 18 August 2011

End and beginning...

Dear Friends

It feels that this is the appropriate time to finish as I have transformed into a 'portfolio worker' and consequently I am juggling too many responsibilities.

Thus a big and heartfelt thanks to all my readers...

However, I will continue to blog at a fresh site entitled:

Which is designed to complement my doctoral studies that are due to start in earnest...This will be a more focused blog as I have prescribed course work and research to undertake.

I am still to learn and the road to success remains under construction...



Ps – I can be contacted at for all those interested in continuing a spiritual dialogue...

Sunday, 14 August 2011

British Poet Laureate pays tribute to British Muslim Hero

'Birmingham for Tariq Jahan' by Carol Ann Duffy:

After the evening prayers at the mosque,
came the looters in masks,
and you three stood,
beloved in your neighbourhood,
brave, bright, brothers,
to be who you were –
a hafiz is one who has memorised
the entire Koran;
a devout man –
then the man in the speeding car
who purposefully mounted the kerb …

I think we all should kneel
on that English street,
where he widowed your pregnant wife, Shazad,
tossed your soul to the air, Abdul,
and brought your father, Haroon, to his knees,
his face masked in only your blood
on the rolling news
where nobody's children riot and burn.

Pakistan at 64...

Dear Friends

The land of my parent’s birth, Pakistan, is 64 years old today. This is no day for celebration in fact it is a day of mourning.  Leading up to 1947,  1 million human beings were slaughtered when the Indian sub continent was partitioned in the name of religion. The partition brought out the worst in Hindu, Muslim and Sikh character. Thus for me the dust of Pakistan has always been sacred as it contains the DNA of countless butchered dreams.

Although I am a British Born Confused Desi, Pakistan remains a constant source of pain and hope. Part of my schooling took place in Islamabad and I have lived and worked there.  In short I have an intense almost OCD  love hate relationship with Pakistan. For me Pakistan is PhD thesis gone wrong, BIG TIME.

All I ask is whether the major stakeholders in Pakistani society especially the media, the government, and the military junta have honoured the memory of those slaughtered in the creation of Pakistan? Successive governments are mirrors of Pakistani society which is addicted to intrigue, politicking and mediocrity. Unfortunately my people care more for entertainment and little for development.

Not until the elite class / establishment are truly willing to serve and the average Khan Pakistani lives for Pakistan we will continue to go from one tragedy to the next...

“Truly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11)


Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Muslim Gandhi? YES...Yasin Malik

Dear Friends

I have searched long and hard for a modern day Muslim Gandhi or Mandela or Dalai Lama or Martin Luther King. I cannot believe it but he is a present day Kashmiri...Yasin Malik.

This 43 year old ex-commander of the JKLF renounced violence when he was released from an Indian jail in 1994 and even though he has been re-arrested and tortured numerous times he has successfully stood his ground. He is correct when he says that he MORALLY, SPIRITUALLY, AND POLITICALLY beaten the Indian state. This is a man who has suffered for the vast majority of his life but his reading and experience of the Muslim mystics during his incarceration has transformed him beyond any measure.

Today Yasin has singlehandedly transformed the violent Kashmiri uprising into a formidable indigenous peace movement that has shaken the Government of Delhi to its core... He has won the imagination of the Indian youth who are now demanding that Kashmiri’s be given their right to self determination.

It’s a terrible shame that he is not more widely known to Western Muslim diasporas’ as his message of democratic and peaceful change are badly needed to counter extremism and inject hope. My Palestinian friends could learn much from him.

Truly inspired...



Dear Friends

It’s my birthday! Celebrating 36 years and counting...Well it has and remains one heck of a ride! Ma Sha Allah...

I have been blessed with many trials, tribulations, failures, losses, set backs, betrayals which have transmuted into the finest manure for my soul...Now as I write in the comfort of a warm bed surrounded by a loving life partner, the sweetest baby daughter and a renewed focus what more can a man ask for? This is the harvest which I have sown (really been blessed with) and will continue to cultivate with all my being...Inshallah...

...Friends believe the miracle...for the road to success is always under construction...


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Rumi on Ramadan...

Dear Friends

Mevlana Rumi ji sings...

O moon-faced Beloved,
the month of Ramadan has arrived
Cover the table
and open the path of praise.

O fickle busybody,
it’s time to change your ways.
Can you see the one who’s selling the halvah
how long will it be the halvah you desire?

Just a glimpse of the halvah-maker
has made you so sweet even honey says,
“I’ll put myself beneath your feet, like soil;
I’ll worship at your shrine.”

Your chick frets within the egg
with all your eating and choking.
Break out of your shell that your wings may grow.
Let yourself fly.

The lips of the Master are parched
from calling the Beloved.
The sound of your call resounds
through the horn of your empty belly.

Let nothing be inside of you.
Be empty:  give your lips to the lips of the reed.
When like a reed you fill with His breath,
then you’ll taste sweetness.

Sweetness is hidden in the Breath
that fills the reed.
Be like Mary – by that sweet breath
a child grew within her.

England's burning respect...

Dear Friends

I am shocked to see my beloved England burning and in the grip of such unprecedented turmoil.

I was rather bemused when during a TV report a young delinquent girl was justifying the violence in terms of lack of respect for the youth by the Police. What a load of cods wallop!

This is not the time to analyse this fluid situation as the security of the common citizen and his or her property is of primary importance. However, according to Wikipedia the definition of respect is:

Respect denotes both a positive feeling of esteem for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., "I have great respect for her judgment").

According to Sufi culture respect begins with ‘self-respect’ which is fuelled by healthy and meaningful choices. And respect for someone else or an institution is actually self-respect.

I am sure there will be a deep post-mortem after this tragedy however the path to self-respect starts now and is never ending...


Friday, 5 August 2011

Maverick Muslims...

Dear Friends

On the face of it Canadian Muslim intellectual Tarek Fatah appears to be a ‘sell out’ and peddling extreme secular fundamentalism:

However behind the bravado is a weeping heart that pines for a reformed and thoroughly 21st century Islam which I wholeheartedly endorse. As usual it’s the way the message is delivered which is the problem with Tarek Fatah and if he transformed his rhetoric into a meaningful intra-Muslim dialogue he would gain so much more grass roots support.

He seems to forget that the vast majority of the 1.3 Billion Ummah is illiterate and therefore cannot access his work or thought. If he worked with the ‘main stream’ Muslim orthodoxy he could achieve so much more and crucially change the hearts and minds of Muslims. Granted the latter are no angels but unfortunately they hold the keys to the poor Muslim masses that are besieged by so many conflicting socio-economic challenges that it is little wonder that they give their blind support / obedience to the local mullah. Since, it is the Mullah who holds their hand during times of crisis when elite Muslim intellectuals are enjoying audiences with Western Prime Ministers or attending gala dinners held by think tanks.

Tarek we love and need you...Really....



'Coffee with Allah'...

Dear Friends

The global Muslim community is well into Ramadan or the month of fasting which is dictated by the lunar calendar. We poor Muslims living in the Western hemisphere are opening our fasts around 9pm!

It’s tough but deeply rewarding. The first sip of juice and a date are really life affirming and one has to be careful to avoid over indulgence. Fortunately I have the most of Ramadan off and consequently I am spending my time reading, reflecting, writing and sleeping!

I am hoping to my start ‘Coffee with Allah’ sessions where I sit in silence in the early hours, sip coffee and listen to my heart...

"We will show them Our signs in the universe and within their own beings until it will become manifest to them that it is the truth." (41:53)



Contextualising Islam...

Dear Friends

I have just finished reading a rare and cracking example of nuanced Muslim thinking entitled Contextualising Islam in Britain; which can be downloaded at:

The report tackles issues / questions / challenges such as identity and belonging for British born Muslims that I have personally been grappling with for years.  I was struck by the boldness and range of ideas that crucially emanate from Quran and Sunnah.

This report comes at a cross roads in my life as I had recently jettisoned damaged dreams of settling abroad in the Muslim World. It sounds crazy but Great Britain is socio-politically more ‘Muslim’ than the entire Muslim world combined which can and must learn. Thus it is high time that British Muslims wholeheartedly give rather than take from this secular society at large...

We Muslims need to recognise that ‘favoured nation status’ is a privilege and not a guarantee and Allah can appoint even perceived Muslim adversaries to do his work and become Khalifahs or His Vice-regents.



Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Dear Friends

I returned late Sunday from a 4 day camp in the lush Lincolnshire countryside entitled ‘LIVING ISLAM 2011’.

This tri-year event is organised by the Islamic Society of Britain and transforms into a platform for truly the very best in British Islam. It was a glorious vignette of cutting edge Muslim thinking coupled with showcase halaal / kosher entertainment!

I have never attended a family gathering of several thousand Muslims that covered practically every school of Muslim thought from Sufi to Salafi to even Progressive! At times I was left stunned at the organisation and cheeky gatherings of young Muslims clearly in love!

Wow! I have a waited a long time for something that has the potential to become a blue print from Muslim communities up and down Great Britain.

English Defence League et al watch out we Muslims are here to stay and beautify Great Britain if not the entire cosmos...Inshallah...



Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cloud 10...Why Teach...

Dear Friends
As I am winding down in my first year of University teaching I just remembered again why I switched to academia / teaching…

Teaching is the mother of all professions and is the only way to engineer positive cultural change. The classroom is the greatest human space and is a theatre of dreams which are nurtured by the teacher…

Although the process of teaching can be highly demanding if not energy sapping however when a student says 'thanks' or you meet a successful former studentYou are on cloud 10

Thank You God!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Norway weeping...

Dear Friends
Like most Europeans I have been shocked by the events in Norway. My sympathies go out to the grief stricken families and heart broken nation.

Some fellow Muslims in private have commented that it is a blessing that it was a fundamentalist / far-right Christian. I strongly disagree.

Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian nutter, has shamed all believers especially of the monotheistic tradition. I am convinced had Breivik been exposed to Christian mysticism he would never have gone on the rampage…

We cannot shy away from European challenges of rampant immigration, mass unemployment and a resurgent Islam. However, dialogue is the only way and it is high time that even the far-right are incorporated into the political process and intellectually challenged to modify their fascist ideology. Geert Wilders watch out!

If European Islam is positively nurtured and incorporated into the Western tradition I believe it can become a gold standard for emergent Muslim nations such as Pakistan and become a force for universal good.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Who is the greatest Muslim Enemy?

Dear Friends
Last night like most British Muslims I watched the first episode of a 3 part BBC series about the life and legacy of Muhammed (pbuh), the final messenger of Islam. I had received many prayerful text reminders! So it felt almost like an obligation…

It was hosted by Rageh Omar and was unusual that so many heavy hitting academics were interviewed even vehement critics like American Robert Spencer. I found it very informative and in parts deeply touching. However, the challenge is whether as a community after 1,400 hundred years we are willing to grow into Islam and 'surrender to God' i.e. Become Muslims.

If the last 200 hundred years or so are anything to go by I don't not think so…

Most of the 1.6 billion strong Ummah / Muslim Nation are Muslims by birth and hence 'cultural Muslims'. The vast majority live in abject poverty of mind, body and soul whilst a select few are part of the international jet set that live it up from Milan to Islamabad. It is these Muslim super elite that need to reform and share its ill gotten wealth with the Muslims masses…Inshallah…

So for all the bravado we Muslims have much to learn and crucially atone for such as the '1971 Pakistani Vietnam' where the Pakistan army systematically raped Muslim Bengali women and murdered tens of thousands in the name of nationalism…

We Muslims are our worst if not greatest enemy…and time and again we forget, perhaps conveniently, that orthopraxy / right conduct is superior to orthodoxy / right thought...



Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bandeya Ho! / Oh! Man...

Dear Friends
In the search for meaning / truth there will be many challenges, stolen dreams and broken promises…but if one can patiently overcome the 'thirst', 'heat', 'weariness' and 'pain'the coolness / mercy of the divine is assured…Yes most certainly! Yes again…

Verily with difficulty is ease!
Verily with difficulty is ease!


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Searching for the Truth...

A lost mind
A broken body
A weeping heart
A dark soul
Searching out
Calling out for the Divine
To take this hurting hand
And show 
The truth

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Gay Pride in Pakistan

Dear Friends

On the 26th June 2011 the American Embassy in Islamabad hosted Pakistan’s inaugural Gay Pride event. However it was a muted affair and the Press Release only went global a couple of days ago.  As expected the back lash has begun and Islamist parties have been at the forefront of violent opposition.

Personally I am amazed at the American cultural insensitivity and timing of the event since Pakistan is plagued with a myriad of socio-economic problems such as poverty and this incident will only fuel anti-western feelings and embolden the conspiracy theorists. Also LGBT people are not exactly free in the West since there has been vehement opposition and legal challenge to Gay marriage for example recently in New York.

Western notions of sexual identity are highly political and developed in the West but do not apply to the Muslim world. Instead Muslim culture has developed its own mechanisms to  absorb LGBT people into the mainstream of society for over 1000 years.  A useful and insightful introduction on the subject is the seminal work by the progressive Canadian Muslim intellectual Tarek Fatah entitled, Chasing a Mirage – The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State.

I remember the following real life story:

A Sufi once met a Gay man and they shared a meal. The Gay man remarked boldly that he was proud to be gay. The Sufi replied that he could not judge as he was not gay and that he was interested in their commonality. ‘What commonality is that Sufi sahib?’, remarked the Gay man.  The Sufi replied, ‘My scripture teaches that God is closer than the jugular vein – therefore, let’s focus on HIM’....They talked for hours and finally the Sufi remarked ‘You are a good and decent man why do you deny the gift of life and opportunity to have children?’. The Gay man was silent for a while then replied ‘That is my choice and I know the consequences of my choices’. The Sufi replied ‘Ah yes thank you for reminding me that my scripture teaches that LET THERE BE NO COMPULSION IN RELIGION. AND THAT GODS MERCY IS SUPERIOR TO HIS WRATH...’

Ultimately what goes on in the bedroom should remain private and between consenting adults...



Saturday, 2 July 2011

Can we blame the local Mullah?

Dear Friends

Yesterday I attended Friday congregational prayers which as usual were a non -descript affair following the usual formula of fire & brimstones speech, Arabic interlude, prayers and the weekly request for money with a house in Paradise thrown in for good measure. I usually switch off and focus on my prayers and drown out the Mullah’s ranting with my own thoughts.

However on this occasion the stand in Mullah was a young British Muslim. My ears perked up as I hoped for some audible diamonds instead I got the usual but in English. It was such a letdown in fact a damning indictment of the state of British Muslim granted local scholarship.

One could argue that I should take the initiative and become an Imam and educate the local community instead of critiquing. However, in my humble experience secular and religious Education begins at home. Not so much in terms of pedagogy rather the parents only job is to instil a love of learning and ensure their kids complete the prescribed homework, encourage and praise and above all inspire them.   The best religious education is for parents to be role models and live their Islam. 

Unfortunately the aforementioned is much diluted and in short supply. In my British South Asian culture family politics and rivalries dominate to such an extent that children are usually pawns in grand games of chess and intrigue. Even if children do well it is a way of gaining the upper hand and cementing familial ties via marriage, consequently I have met many Oxbridge fools in my time!

Religious education is farmed out to local Mosques which are populated by poorly paid Imams whose first language is not English and wield power though the stick.  As long their children can read the Quran in Arabic parents are satisfied that they have done their duty and paradise is assured. There is usually no thought given to imbibing the Quran and exploring Muslim history let alone developing critical reasoning / aql.  So it should be no surprise when these kids are suffering from identity crisis that the likes of Al-Qaeda  / Hizb-ut-Tahrir become surrogate parents and  poison our young people’s minds.

So is the current state of local, national, international Islam all the local Mullah’s fault?


Monday, 27 June 2011

BOL - Speak...

Dear Friends,
Even as Pakistan is inching closer to the brink its writers and artists manage to produce artistic meaning of the highest  calibre and depth. One such son of the soil is SHOAIB MANSOOR the director of the much lauded KHUDA KAYE LIYE – For the sake of God, which examined Muslim extremism. He has just released another socio-political sensation – BOL – Speak:

This time he is tackling the plight of Muslim women...

Yes, indeed the pen is mightier than the sword...

Yaa Haq...


Ps - This is movie is very dear to me as I am the proud father of a baby daughter...

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Faltering 'Arab Spring'...

Dear Friends

The spectacular ‘Arab Spring’ caught most of the world by surprise.  The depressed global Muslim street was shocked into action and there was a genuine hope that the aged and corrupt Muslim aristocracies would disappear. Obama et al after initial reservations weighed in behind the Muslim protestors as they could clearly see the writing on the wall and there were remarkable gains in Tunisia and Egypt.

Things have become a bloody and complex mess in Libya, Syria and Yemen but this is not the time to withdraw Western support. Otherwise it will feed the conspiracy peddlers that the West were merely protecting oil interests and suppressing genuine Muslim democracy as was the case in Bahrain where the uprising was violently crushed with the help of Saudi Arabia & UAE.

Granted the economic environment is in free fall but can the west really afford not to finish the job properly in AfPak and Libya? I am sure that the Turkish government is being consulted if not there will be more ‘blow back’ and personally I fear it will be nuclear...Unfortunately the Quran in the hands of zealots is like a mad monkey with a cut throat razor...

In hope and prayer...


Saturday, 25 June 2011

Shades of Allah u Akbar...

Dear Friends

Allah u Akbar / God is Great has come to signify many things...Here is my humble experience:

The Suicide Bomber detonates Allah u Akbar
The Mullah worships Allah u Akbar
The Protestor hurls Allah u Akbar
The Petitioner begs Allah u Akbar
The devotee sings Allah u Akbar
But only the Sufi disappears in Allah u Akbar

For naught will remain save the Face of Allah (28:88)







Baba Muhammed Yahya Khan...

Dear Friends

My beloved yet tortured Pakistan is suffering from mass unemployment, rampant inflation, a violent insurgency, systemic corruption, political incompetence, religious extremism, brain drain on an epic scale...No wonder it has been dubbed a failed state. My personal assessment is that it is a PhD thesis gone mad.

However, amidst the chaos a Muslim superhero has emerged...BABA MUHAMMED YAHYA KHAN...This living Sufi legend has taken Lahore and the world by storm and his simple yet powerful message of love is giving solace and hope to millions.

He has written 10 books in Urdu which are being translated into English and now his work is been dramatised.


This is Sufism with attitude....


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Shooting from the heart...

Dear Friends
A timely and awesome reminder especially when the 'chips are down'…

When your is bow is broken
And your last arrow spent
Then shoot
Shoot with your whole heart…



Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A.A. Spirituality...

Dear Friends
Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the most spiritual and effective organisations on the planet. For decades it has quietly gone about transforming the lives of millions of peoples across the globe.

I once had the honour of attending an A.A meeting where I was supporting a friend who was a recovering alcoholic.  I was struck by the sense of community and crucially welcome afforded to even non-Alcoholics and the way new members were made the 'stars'. The latter were encouraged to discuss their trials and tribulations and were given much love.

I vividly remember talking to the facilitator who had been clean for 20 years and was celebrating his ' A.A birthday' that day. He talked passionately about his Christian faith and a Jesus (pbuh) who was a strong fisher man who enjoyed being in the company of those who were on the margins of society. Truly inspiring…

In contradistinction to the above I find most religious even Sufi settings to be stuffy and full of politicking. The Shakyh is centre stage and is surrounded by his inner circle. There is no Prophetic aroma merely a didactic flow of gibberish that is poorly clothed in Quran and Sunnah. Not until Muslim Scholars become vessels for the divine origin there will be discord and acrimony….

I have seen my Lord with the eye of my heart, and I said: "Who are You?" He said:"You." (Diwan al-Hallaj, M. 10)


Monday, 20 June 2011

Keep Climbing...

Dear Friends

I am a great lover of Rumi and the following You Tube link is an exquisite taste of heaven.

However I am deeply concerned that Rumi’s message is being manipulated to arrest people’s socio-economic development. I am horrified to learn that some young people are giving up promising careers to clean toilets and perform other menial tasks in the Mevlevi Tekke of Konya.

This is the dark side of Sufism and has little to do with purification of the heart. It is simple manipulation and power politics.  Granted Mevlana Rumi advised ‘little eating, little sleeping and little talking’ but this is actually an esoteric practice for the soul and will only permanently impair mind and body.

Bottom line is that malnourished, uneducated and sleepless Sufi’s are grainy shadows of their past contemporaries and will be of little if any service to humanity. Now I can sympathise with Kemal Ataturk who historically banned Sufism as it had become over ripe and useless.

Even if you complete the Sufi Path it is continues after death...The manazil / stations are never ending as God is never ending. HOWEVER our time on this planet is LIMITED and we only have one chance to do something great and meaningful in this life. And that is usually touching humanity rather than navel gazing...

Keep climbing the mountain even when you reach the top...(A wise Zen Saying)



Thursday, 16 June 2011

Excessive religion...

Dear Friends
It occurred to me the other day that if excess consumption of food causes so many health problems such as diabetes and ultimately an untimely death. Surely excess of anything is bad for human beings especially money, power or fame. Perhaps excess of religion is emotionally detrimental?

The Quran talks a lot about the need for meezan / balance and moderation. Muslims are supposed to be standard bearers for the 'middle-path'…On paper this is deeply inspiring but what is the reality? This question can only be answered individually by all the 1.6 billion Muslims on this troubled planet.

Personally I feel we Muslims lack balance in practically every department of life….and it appears to be getting worse on a daily basis. We could and should learn from Buddhists and Quakers who are masters of cultivating the heart and leading truly inspiring lives. Consequently I reminded of the stunning Quranic admonition:

''Truly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11)

I am to learn…