Thursday, July 09, 2009

As I type out this post I feel very overwhelmed. Earlier today, I graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor of Science Degree.

I had looked forward to this day for as long as I can remember. I had always envisioned myself in the academic robes and cap receiving my degree during a commencement ceremony. And today was the day it happened. I put on my academic robes today. I went for my commencement ceremony today. I received my degree scroll today. I became a graduate.

When one approaches such a milestone, one cannot be helped but be lost in his thoughts. The sheer magnitude of graduation leaves one in awe of the opportunities he has been given over the years to develop himself.

I think back to all the people who have helped me along the journey and I offer my sincere thanks to God for having met them and learn from them. Aqa Moula (TUS) of course, has been my light throughout my journey. My parents, family, close friends, mentors, teachers, professors and students have all played a big part in my life, helping me develop into the person I am today. To all of you, thank you so much. Such journeys of life can never be undertaken alone. I am so glad and so thankful that all of you wonderful people were there along the journey. I really really couldn't have done it without all of you.

The past 3 years in NUS have been amazing. I have met so many wonderful people, had so many amazing experiences, been in so many insightful classes and learnt so so much. Most of all, I have made so many new friends who I am sure are gonna be lifelong buddies. But I have started to miss all of it terribly. I am missing the whole NUS experience so much. It is a wonderful place which will forever hold so many memories for me.

I met Dr Barbara Ryan today and took photos with her. She told me that this by no means is the end but is the start of an amazing journey. Right now, I am at the doorstep of the journey of the rest of my life. The road isn't very clear but it seems to be exciting and full of promise.

Oh goodness, I am like chatting with friends online now, and seriously, everything is so overwhelming. On top of clearing and archiving my NUS email account. I think I'll continue tomorrow.

Just so many thoughts....

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Yesterday morning was the first time in ages that I went for sabaq (cell group/small religious class) and it felt amazing. It was refreshing and rejuvenating. Of course Aamil Saheb (the priest) had to remind me to go for Sabaq the night before during a Darees (prayer session) but I'm glad he did. I forgot how intellectually stimulating Sabaqs are and how much I enjoy them.

I was telling my cadets during the SNCO course last month that it is importnat to renew onself in 4 areas constantly to ensure personal effectiveness as a leader. One of the four areas was spiritual renewal. And ironically I had not been following my own advice.

Must make sure I pay more attention to this renewal thing. So here are a few resolutions:

Body: Jog on the treadmill for 15 minutes everyday. And play badminton once a week (thanks to Gerard who has offered to be my badminton partner....haha)

Mind: Do research to write my next paper on education.

Heart: Continue volunteering at NCDCC :) Yes!!!!

Soul: Attend Sabaqs every week and read a chapter of the iqtebasat everyday.

And people, leave a tag!!!!

I think being in power and having a conscience at the same time is a very difficult state of being. It is certainly the ideal of state of being but I think it is a most difficult state of being. Not having a conscience allows a person to be popular, gain comforts, ensure his/her own continuity, giving up responsibility and basically enjoy the position of power in which one is in. Perhaps this is the reason that many people who gain power even with the best of intentions eventually get corrupted. As the old adage goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I was faced with a dilemma two days ago to do something which was in the best interest of one of my charges but wasn't certainly the most popular decision. In having to remain impartial and objective as well as looking out for the person's welfare, I had to adopt a tone that was rather strict but at the same time fair. The decision was certainly not met with a lot of happiness and I am pretty sure that I have lost his admiration and even friendship. Whether I still have his respect is another matter altogether. Is this what leadership is all about? I always thought that leadership gets easier with more experience but many times more experience leads to more responsibilities which in turn leads to more learning opportunities, both pleasant or otherwise.

Today is the Milad Mubarak (Birth Anniversary) of Moulana Ali Ibn Abi Talib (AS). He was the Wasi of the prophet Mohmammed (SAW) and was the latter's trusted lieutenant. Just a few weeks back I was standing at the sephulchre (tomb) of Moulana Ali (AS). Inside the Mausoleum it felt as if one had entered a heavenly presence. Every minute I spent in there praying was a pure moment of spirituality. Moulana Ali was a person who believed in peaceful settlement instead of war. When he became the Caliph, he didn't lead a life of grandeur. Instead, in the service of God, he spent his time looking after the welfare of the people using his own money to sponsor meals for the people while he himself ate very little and meagrely. He is the true example of what a leader should be. His motivation was only God's happiness and God's will, his inspiration was the spirit of Islam and his work was the upliftment of his people. If Islamic leaders truly want to lead in the spirit of Islam, they should follow the example of Moulana Ali instead of playing politics all the time.

Aqa Moula (TUS) is a true example of what a leader in islam should be like and he is the true na'ib of Moulana Ali. Aqa Moula (TUS) has rebuilt Moulana Ali's Masjid in Kufa and I was truly blessed to have been able to visit this sacred site a few weeks back. So many important events took place in that Masjid. All the prophets have passed through the land upon which the Masjid stands. Adam, Nu'h, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa and Mohammed (SAW) have all walked on that land which has made it blessed. And of course, Moulana Ali's final moments were spent in the qibla of that Masjid where when the enemy striked him on his head with a sword while he was praying to God, "Fuzto wa Rabbil Ka'aba", "By the name of the Lord of the Ka'aba, I have won". Aqa Moula wants to visit Kufa soon and inaugurate the rebuilt masjid. may Allah Ta'ala make it possible in the near future and give us the opportunity to visit that holy recess with him and do matam of Moulana Ali. Ameen.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I have often thought about the reasons why I keep doing what I do especially when there challenges arise and cause you to question your own passion and motivations. I was re-reading a book called "The 8th Habit" by Stephen Covey and there were some quotes which kinda gave an answer.

An extraction from "The Paradoxical Commandments" by Kent M. Keith:
  1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
    Love them anyway.
  2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
    Do good anyway.
  3. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
    Succeed anyway.
  4. The good you do today, will be forgotten tomorrow.
    Do good anyway.
  5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
    Be honest and frank anyway.
  6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
    Think big anyway.
  7. People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs.
    Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
  8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
    Build anyway.
  9. People really need help, but may attack you if you do help them.
    Help people anyway.
  10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
    Give the world the best you have anyway.
"Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves" - Stephen R. Covey.

In response to a friend's post on his blog:

"It is sad, when our motivation comes from beliefs that are based on studies which show that we are capable of so much more."

I do agree that it is sad if this was the case. However, I think if people are motivated, it is because they know they are capable of so much more and not because their beliefs are based on studies which tell them so. And sometimes, some people need a little help in believing in themselves, myself included. Outliers talk about people being at the right time and place making it big, I say that you create your right time and place. Always believe that your destiny is in your hands and the grace of a superior power. I guess, that's what I really feel.

Anyhoo, I'm getting quite a bit of stuff done, including updating my blog so I guess that's a good thing. Experiences however, are getting more exciting by the day.

Go out and make the world a better place.

And if you read this blog, become an active participant by leaving a tag or comment. Be nice. Haha.


Monday, June 29, 2009

There is so much to be said and so much more to be done.

I don't know where to start, so many things have happened over the past 2 months. So many new experiences. So many opportunities. So many wonderful experiences. So many challenges. So much growth.

But most amazingly, so many opportunities for reflection and so many real spiritual moments.

I am indeed blessed. If I begin to count all the blessings I have received over the past 2 months I think I would not be able to stop counting for a while. I can only thank God for what he has given me. Thank Aqa Moula (TUS) for what he has given me. And even then I cannot possibly show adequate gratitude for all I have been given.

I went to Iraq and was blessed to visit the Mausoleums of Moulana Ali, Imam Husain, Moulana Abbas and all the other shohada. As I grasped these Holy Zari (Sephulchres) with my hand I truly came face to face with history. With hope. With the essence of religion. With spirituality. I cannot possibly describe those moments. Yet perhaps over my next few posts I shall attempt to do so. Going into the Kufa masjid was one of the most amazing journeys I have undertaken. How often does one get to step on land so holy?

The 7th SNCO course was an amazing experience and very much a learning experience for me. I had to re look and re design my leadership modules for this course. I learnt so much from interacting with the cadets during these sessions. I really hope the cadets benefitted from it. It is indeed such a joy to work with cadets. They make every minute of being a HO worthwhile.

I have also forged so many new friendships and strenthened my bond with many others.

So many new things await, so many new opportunities have opened up and I only hope that I am up for everything.

I know I am being rather vague in this post but I promise to post more often now!

Have fun :)

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Second week into exams and thankfully things have gotten easier. MNO exam wasn't too bad. Hopefully I answered the questions correctly. I managed to overflow all the spaces assigned for answers but that doesn't necessarily mean a correct answer right? One more paper on Friday! Fortunately it is a MCQ and I wouldn't have to do much writing. Monday's paper made me realise how lazy my hand had become! I remember when I was in JC, I used to write essay after essay to practice for the bio exam and for GP. And my hand stayed strong and did my bidding without complaint. But now after writing 8 short answers (around a paragraph each) and one essay, my hand ached and cramped. This is what 3 years of having a laptop and typing out everything does to you. I should go back to writing again one of these days. One of these days....

On Sunday I had an amazing experience. After almost 48 days, Aqa Moula (TUS) came into the public view for the first time after being hospitalised. Mumineen all around the world expressed their love and devotion to Moula through various means. Moula gave a bayaan (sermon) to commemorate the death anniversary of Moulatena Fatema (AS), the daughter of Rasulullah and a woman of profound courage, intellect and devotion to the cause of God. In the bayaan Aqa Moula (TUS) thanked Allah for giving him a speedy recovery and reaffirmed his commitment to the Khidmat of Imam uz zaman and did dua that Allah bless him with a long and healthy life so that he may continue his khidmat. Mumineen gave a resounding "Ameen" after this dua. Moula said "Mumineen, you are always with me and nothing can ever keep us apart". I only needed to hear those words to know that Moula is always with me watching over me. And looking around me, everyone else felt the same as well. Moula also mentioned three times, "There is no faith without love." Moula's shows in his actions and words how true this statement is.

I am right now full of anticipation. On Friday night, I will be leaving for what will be one of the most amazing journeys of my life. I will be going to Dubai where I'll stopover for a day before I fly to Najaf and from Karbala. I cannot remember since when my heart longed to visit this place. The place where Imam Husain (AS) declared that his worldly journey is over and the journey towards salvation has begun. The place where the enemies had kept him and his family and followers away from water and food for 3 days. The place where Imam Husain spent a night praying for the salvation of the faithful. Where Imam Husain made his final khutba (sermon) summoning the enemy to come back to the principles of faith, the principles of Islam. Where Imam Husain's followers fell to protect him. Where Moulana Abbas performed his final act of devotion. Where Moulana Ali Akbar died in Imam Husain's arms. Where Imam Husain asked the enemies for just a sip of water to give his 6-month old son and where the enemies shot at an arrow that killed the infant. Where Imam Husain asked Jibrail what Allah's wish for him was. Where Imam Husain did the final sajda where he prayed for the salvation of all us. Indeed, Karbala is the place where Good triumphed over evil, where love triumphed over hate and where salvation was achieved for all of us.

I cannot wait to stand at the Tomb of Imam Husain and remember that just a few months ago, Aqa Moula was on the thakt telling us about how Imam Husain gave up everything and endured so much so that we may be free of our sins. I cannot wait to grasp at the zari mubarak and cry. I cannot wait to visit the place where Imam husain performed his final sajda and the small hill where Moulatena Zainab saw her brother's ultimate sacrifice.

I am ever so thankful that I have been given the opportunity to make this visit. I am thankful to God for granting my wishes. And I am thankful to Aqa Moula (TUS) for guiding me towards the truth, what Imam Husain sacrificed his life for.

Dear friends, please pray that my journey will be safe and spiritually fulfilling. Khuda Ta'ala sagla mumineen ne Imam Husain nu zari choomwanu naseeb kare. Ameen.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let me tell you what sucks.

What sucks is having to see a student of yours face to face and tell him the no-so-flattering truth about himself. When you have to tell a student that he's not good at everything he thought he was good at. Having to watch the student's confidence ebb away. And having to do it in a voice which cannot reveal even a trace of regret.

The only reason you would do that to a student, is to help him to become a better person. And you have to resort to such things from time to time. And it sucks. Its sucks because that students looks up to you and now you gotta tell him what he doesn't want to hear.

And then it hurts inside like crap. It's part of the job description. The next step? To help him realize his true potential. Easier said then done.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Things have been looking bright lately and I guess that it's a good thing. The confidence that ebbed away in the last few weeks has mostly come back and my thought processes have started generating new ideas again, which can only be a good thing.

Two days ago, I spoke to Dr Barbara Ryan and it was an amazing conversation. I was telling her about my future plans and how I intend to take the path less taken. There wasn't even a sliver of doubt present on her face when she listened to me. She told me to go for it and pursue my passion because that is the fuel for success. She gave me tips to help me pursue my goals and encouraged me to fight on and not give up. She even agreed to help me with some of the stuff! I'm so glad I met her. She's really one of the profs you can just go and talk to. She's really inspired me and has become a mentor to me.

My sec 3s in Montfort are gearing up to take over the unit. I must say that as a whole batch, they have quite a bit of potential. The challenge is, however, to channel this potential and energy in an effective, educative and developmental way. They grasp the concepts of leadership pretty quickly and understand the need for leaders to serve the people rather than the other way round, which certainly is a positive start. I'm feeling quite optimistic about this batch and cannot wait to work with them when they take over!

Many opportunities have popped up. Perhaps, they might have always been there and I'm noticing them only now. I'm really thankful that they are finally visible to me. However, Rasulullah (SAW) once said that opportunities are like clouds and one must grasp them before they float away. The meaning in this is clear. You make your own life. You have to take the initiative to grasp opportunities and do something with your life. I'm ready to work hard to grasp the ones that are currently available.

"Everyone falls down in life. It's how fast you get up that matters."

Have fun dudes.