Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The World Ends Again

We’ve been here before.

From Heaven’s Gate to Y2K, from the Jupiter Effect to Jehovah’s Witness, from Zombieland to The Terminator; history is dotted by (often absurd) examples of doomsday prophecies.

And so (insert yawn here) this Friday, once again the world is coming to an end.

What’s interesting, though, is the insanely wide range of reactions people have had to this piece of news.

At one extreme are the Preppers, folks who have decided that the world will end, and they will be prepared; no ands, buts, or ifs. Preppers stock up on food for months, hone survival skills and fortify their houses for the off-chance of, let’s say, a zombie apocalypse.

On the other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, are the people who have decided that the Apocalypse is a great opportunity to party the night away (“hey, it is the end of the world after all!”). Flyers abound for such merry doomsday get-togethers from those thoughtful nightclubs.


But maybe I’m being a little too hard on them. After all, at the very least they’re doing something at the face of imminent widespread death and destruction.

What about the rest of us?

Most, I guess, lie in the “I don’t give a rat’s gluteus maximus” category.
The average person shrugs dismissively: “what will be, will be”
We don’t know and/or care that the world will one day come to an end.

Here’s an epic line from Tuesdays With Morrie which I want to quote at this point, said by the author’s dying professor:

“Everyone knows they’re going to die…but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.”

Because here’s the first painful, blindingly obvious truth: You will die one day.

You can die a thousand years old (if those medical journals are to be believed), or you could die an hour old.
You could die as heroically as being hit by a bus after pushing a child out of the way, or as embarrassingly as slipping in the toilet and breaking your neck.
You could die as spectacularly as a soldier in a hail of bullets, or as quietly as an old man on his deathbed.

Which brings me to the second painful, blindingly obvious truth: you don’t know when (and how) you will die.

Yes, the world will end one day (third painful, blindingly obvious truth).

But when it comes down to it, does it really matter when?
You could very well die tomorrow, with the world going on its business as usual.

In the end, the question (addressed to myself as well), is this:
Have we prepared enough for that personal doomsday of ours?

Will you face Death and say: “I am not afraid”?
Will you look back at your life and say: “I have spent it well”?
And will you look ahead to the hereafter and say: “I am ready”?

For myself, to all those questions, my answer right now is “No”. And I want to change that by becoming a better person everyday.

I am young and na├»ve; but I think that’s an aspiration we should all share.

And hey, it’s not too late; the world hasn’t ended yet. ;)

[The time of] their account has approached for the people, while they are in heedlessness turning away. (21:1)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Mujahadah

"Free, free Palestine!" 

Something wasn't quite right...even as I believed every word coming from my lips.

"Free, free Palestine!" 

15th November 2012: The savage Zionist attack on Gaza has just begun, and around the world people were gathering in public squares, streets and town parks; keen to show solidarity with the Palestinians. One such gathering took place at twilight in Picadilly Garden, Manchester. 

And I was proud to be part of it. 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

It was heartening to see that so many people have woken up to the tragedy of the Palestinians. Things seemed a bit different this time, compared to the reaction to a similar attack by Israel in 2008. 

The Palestinian cause is not forgotten; if anything there were more people out to demonstrate their support this time around. 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

And yet... I could not shake off the feeling in my heart that something wasn't quite right. More than once during that cold twilight at Piccadilly Garden, I questioned what I was actually doing. Yes I was voicing out (quite loudly): 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

But what exactly was I achieving? How exactly does my chanting and yelling here help my brothers and sisters all the way in Palestine? 

In that sense nothing has changed since 2008. How I felt then I feel again now: a feeling of utter helplessness... 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

The cheer is, to my tongue, tarnished by a tinge of hypocrisy now. I am saying something that I've done nothing to achieve. 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

But then I realize...I too have my own mujahadah; my own struggle. Everybody does. In everybody's personal way everybody struggles against something. 

It could be a mujahadah for good grades. 
A mujahadah to show patience with that annoying little bro. 
A mujahadah to keep fit. 
A mujahadah to wake up for Fajr prayers in the dead of winter. 
A mujahadah to not text that particular girl so much. 

The list goes on. 

"Free, free Palestine!" 

My Palestinian brothers and sisters are prevented from studying through the night by troops knocking on doors; nothing stops me but my lack of will.
They are prevented from contacting their parents because they are split into different refugee camps, or by death; nothing stops me but forgetfulness.
They are prevented from going for Fajr prayers in the morning by falling bombs; nothing stops me but the weight of my duvet.

My brothers and sisters in Palestine undergo a very public mujahadah; but alongside them I undergo a personal one. Yes it does not involve picking up a rocket launcher or a dusty battlefield - but in many ways the struggle against personal desires is just as difficult.

"Free, free Palestine!" 

So I thank my Palestinian brothers and sisters. They have reminded me of a vital lesson in mujahadah. Their struggle continues in the public eye. For the rest of us, our mujahadah continues in our own private lives. 

"Free, free Palestine!"