November 18, 2008

Tribute to the Pilgrims

In the last few weeks, I have been congratulated quite often for my recent marriage. Marriage certainly is a big step in life, and is worthy of celebration. But is it really that special, in comparison to other accomplishments in life?

My closest friend is leaving for Hajj in less than a week. Thinking about the journey he is about to undertake, I can't help but think that his journey, and that of every other pilgrim, is far more worthy of celebration than any marriage. We put so much emphasis on marriage, forgetting about the more important things in life.
  1. Hajj is mandatory (fardh), while marriage is sunnah. Completing Hajj is establishing a pillar of Islam; it is the very foundation of one's deen.
  2. Both marriage and Hajj are once-in-a-lifetime experiences for most people, but Hajj is such an experience that cleanses a person spiritually and can change a life completely. Generally, marriage will also change a person for the better, but it occasionally brings out the worst in people. There is no guarantee that marriage will provide the spiritual renewal that Hajj provides.
  3. Hajj is a privilege that very few get to experience. Assuming an average adult lifespan of seventy years, and an average of two million new pilgrims per year, approximately 140 million Muslims will go for Hajj during the life of an average person. This makes up only 10% of the entire Muslim population - meaning 90% of the Muslims of the world do not get such an opportunity. On the other hand, most people get married eventually, and it is not even something exclusive to Muslims. Most people get married eventually.
Of course, they are not mutually exclusive, so the pursuit of one should not prevent the other. Those who have experienced both are truly lucky. But we must not forget what a privilege the experience of Hajj is, and must confer the appropriate respect and honour to the Pilgrims. They are far more worthy of respect, and deserve all the recognition we can give them.

November 06, 2008

Passing Thought

I recently was thinking about what life might be like if we were unable to visualize thoughts in our minds. Imagine if we actually had to draw out our thoughts on paper in order to "see" them, or speak sounds to hear them. Our brains provide us with such a vivid canvas on which we can easily illustrate in two or three dimensions, internalized within ourselves. It also provides us with a stage in which we can animate anything or anyone in any way we want, and the orchestra to conjure up whatever audio we like.

What if we had these capacities taken away? Could we somehow still get by based only on what we perceive with our eyes and ears?

November 03, 2008

Prayers for Chachi

Please pray for my aunt, the mother of my cousin Nauman, who has recently been diagnosed with colon cancer. Unfortunately, cancer is nothing new to our family, but Allah has been merciful and has cured afflicted family members in the past; insha-Allah, this time will be no different.

Please convey your well-wishes to Nauman here.