The Grey World – II

I’ll pick up from where I left in my last blog.

The grey world, I’m beginning to realise, is more like a black hole – As vast as a universe in itself yet invisible to the external eye. Those who enter it, never come out. And somewhere along the way, they lose regard for what’s white/ one/ light/ virtue because it holds no proprietary right on the Golden Rule which is quite fair; only too far from what’s conventional and orthodox.

It sometimes puts me in awe how brimming with meaning our world is, or can be if we really choose to notice. There are small truths floating all over in space, conforming or denying each other yet remaining truths in their own right. Think of all the religions as small, contradicting truths, for example, or libertarian vs authoritarian ideologies, republicans vs democrats, darwinism vs creationism, or science vs religion etc. So many of them to put us in awe. So much contradictory to put us in awe. Where do we find the golden rule that weaves them all together. More and more people are realizing that the uncharted spaces between non-conforming truths need to be explored. We can see efforts being made. I just discovered Broadly’s documentary ‘Inside the Weird World of an Islamic Feminist Cult’ which is basically a group of Islamic creationists led by Mr Oktar who claims to be the first Imam to introduce his followers to feminism. People are scared of him; some find him rather ‘weird’ (as the title of the documentary suggests); even I find his kittens hilarious but I appreciate him for exploring the no-go area between traditional Islam and modern feminism, trying to modify each to bring them into harmony.

Clearly Oktar has lost association with and regard for traditional Islam so much as for modern feminism, in hope of finding the middle ground. It can’t be said as of now if he has discovered the golden rule yet but one thing is for sure: he is never going to lapse back to either. So I guess he is a man trapped in a black hole. Kudos to him and everybody else exploring the grey world.

Reference:

‘Inside the Weird World of an Islamic Feminist Cult’ documentary link: https://youtu.be/7bH21w2R0hc

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The Grey World

The concept of the grey world was first explained to me by a doctor of philosophy I came across rather coincidentally, when I was a morbid radical undergrad who had just begun to look for alternative paths to The Meaning. I remember what a pain it was to listen to him the first time. He was surrounded by his disciples who I would later come to describe as ‘cultists’ which held true for every definition of the term except that they would conveniently leave if they deemed it better, and the cult, given its fundamental principle of intellectual freedom, would make no tantrum or effort to hold them back (quite a thing for a radical associated with a highly possessive, volatile organization). I carefully listened to him, disagreed with him strongly and finally gave in to his eloquence, authority, reason but far more importantly, his history. It ‘felt’ like he traveled the same road as I did, only twenty years ahead of me. As i look back, it feels to be the greatest irony of my life that I chose the path of ‘reason’ because an ‘intuition’ told me so. Perhaps it was the first grey of my life, the grey between the black and white of reason and intuition, that eventually opened up the grey universe for me.

It took me quite long to embrace the ideal of greyness that suggests that there exists murkiness between black and white which isn’t necessarily a wrong as opposed to right/sin as opposed to virtue/falseness as opposed to truth/ or zero as opposed to one. In a way, it made the job trickier because it directly implied that if there is such a thing as a ‘golden rule’ in this mayhem of a universe – a rule that would streamline all its contradictions and bring them into harmony, then there is a possibility that such a rule may exist NOT in the light of its whites but the murkiness of its greys.

The grey world, I’m beginning to realise, is more like a black hole – As vast as a universe in itself yet invisible to the external eye. Those who enter it, never come out. And somewhere along the way, they lose regard for what’s white/ one/ light/ virtue because it holds no proprietary right on the Golden Rule which is quite fair; only too far from what’s conventional and orthodox.

The black-hole similitude for the grey world leaves much to say. Signing off for now. Cheers.

A Beautiful Mind

My aunt is a lovely human being who I find smiling all the time. She graduated in genetic engineering from KU with a first-class-first (gold medal) back in ’80s and was appointed as research officer in a top notch government department right after. The tragedy of her life was that one of her series of breakthrough researches on cancer was published by her professor under her own name. My phupho was an empowered, independent and vocal woman who didnt know giving up so she decided to fight back. But when she protested, she was harassed and terrorised by her professor’s hooligans. My papa was a well-built martial artist and remembers having broken quite some wrists when they bullied her with knives. But then papa wasn’t always around, and after a continual torture that lasted for around a year and consisted of phupho been catcalled in the streets when she left for work, physically attacked and harassed, she finally shattered like glass one day and only whithered with time. Now she spends most of her time reading, confined in one of the many rooms of my father’s house. When I was young, I remember having rich conversations with her on topics like plants, God, astronomy and of course biology, her favorite. So this time round, as I got a spare day or two from my job, I came over to visit her and had a nice and warm chit chat. She often trailed off like always, spoke of mysterious terminologies all the while letting a beautiful, beautiful smile play on her lips. So I put it all down on paper to keep it safe, forever.

So phupho, when did you graduate from KU?
We simply count LITE. It is said that in calendar, there are impacts with different worlds like shaker, anti-aging English world. Salts can favor us regarding this world. They say if you are load conservative, they will only tell you about calendar year. For example, you’re following blade platinum, press, brass or bronze plate which can also peep in your grid planted at your residence. If you are load conservative, reflecting yourself as a symbol, we will count you that you are represented by calendar of brass, bronze or simply paper telling you about either advertisements, sceneries, transparencies and different historical spots. Tourism too tells us about different spots for tours. Then we will tell you symbol is introduced with calendar i.e brass, bronze or paper. Usually on calendar it’s given that this calendar is produced with association of chemicals.

If you get a choice to live in either Karachi or Rahim Yar Khan, what would you opt for?
Admirably we would want to live in Karachi. Its a city of lights. Karachi is a city of lights (sparkly eyes). While RYK is z-cap.

Where did you get your primary schooling from?
I was first admitted into Presentation Convent School, Rawalpindi. Later the school was converted to Cantonment Public School. Rawalpindi was a source. From there we had previously planned to shift to Karachi. We planned to move to karachi because it was the city of lights. (Sparkly eyes, again)

How old were you when you moved to Karachi?
Rawalpindi simply counts how you stepped on this planet. Chemicals are volatile, they favor you, considering us age-less. They always ask us if we have knowledge about calendars, clocks, watches; i can favor you. You must learn about magnetic fields, watches, clocks, calendars, horsepower. For reading calendar, you have to have knowledge about working on barrels. For reading clocks, you have to learn magnetic fields and horsepower.

Where in Rawalpindi did you live?
We lived in our own palace; Paramount Palace. At sources there was only Paramount Palace. Later, there were many people who introduced their chips at Rawalpindi.

Potato chips?
(Smiling) No, chips of different planets.

Okay, so how far was Saddar from your place?
Sorry, i don’t quite remember.

Do you remember anything about Rawalpindi?
Any type of research which was related with recent hapenings alongwith need or requirement. We used to open our showrooms. There we used to sit for research and also used to collect our needs and requirements. Later after collecting it, we used to lock our showroom.

How was Rawalpindi back in 1980s?
We have not visited Rawalpindi. Once there was a tour, managed by university. In those days, i had viewed Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

Do you have any memory about the twin cities?
No i just viewed the city from bus. We visited University of Islamabad, i just recalled.

Why couldn’t you remember it for the first time? Was that a faint memory?
University said that tour bus would give you a ride through the city. You could only view the city from the running bus. Later we went to the univeristy. It will entertain you and give you hints for charming a bright future, will also give you hints of enchantments which can grab you if you strike them. It will favor your bright future but you must not forget that we will not tell you about any hymn or prayer or any type of words given by scientists or monks and nuns but tell you about chemicals, dessicate high chemicals which are evaporated due to heat. This heat can grab you, will reflect itself as a disease like heat stroke as that you can simply follow your laboratory research. When you have knowledge about dessication of salts, how can we collect volatiles in laboratory? How can we consume volatiles for research? Someone had expired because her spirit had left her body. Instead you worked on dessication of high salts and absorb yourself as a student.

Did you watch television?
In those days, we have memory about channels simply on letters, codes, literature, mining and music. They usually tell us that it looks that each and everything is in our hands but it itself is simply a box, music box.

Where Earth meets the Sky

Three kilometers into the x-country, i decided it was time to gear up the pace. I looked up at the pacer to my left to check if he was ready for the blast. Raja had just taken his shirt off letting the September sun wash over his sculpted torso, his abdominal muscles gleaming like rippling waves of bronze and his pace perfectly locked with mine with the kind of natural synchronicity that I had doubted before could even exist. In the agony of a race, it was a delight to look at him – his body leaning forward, neck craning slightly ahead of his shoulders and gaze fixated firmly on the dirt ground that rolled beneath us in a flurry – he was strong and steady and didn’t seem like giving up anytime soon. Neither did I.

Ever since i had discovered him, Raja ran like that. And I have always marveled at his style which is beautiful, child-like and allows him to run fiercely fast. Out of hundreds of people I have run and competed with over the years, he seems to be the only guy who reminds me of Pre. The same lightning quick starts, mid race burnouts and the devil-may-care attitude once the race gun fires. But so long as he is running, there’s no denying the fact that he is a moving, huffing and puffing masterpiece.

I am a big believer in the fact that where you look at in your run tells a great deal about who you are in life. And if it’s true, Raja, with his eyes always dug into the rolling dirt trail beneath him, in fact, is an earthrunner. Humble, generous, caring and easy to be friends with. I, on the other hand, am a skyrunner. Cocky, cold, private and aloof. And how the two of us can get along so well in a x-country run is a fascinating mystery that I might never be able to solve.

Purpose

While doing a quick round up of the eminent theorists from some major schools of thought in Psychology, Dr. X told me why he thought Viktor E. Frankl’s psychoanalytical system left a “working” space for religion, not just a symbolic, sympathetic one, as you might find with his more popular counterpart, Carl Jung, and his brethren. I was familiar with the growing fascination among boys over Frankl but wasn’t able to read him before. Dr. X’s eloquent synopsis was something that came in handy.

He said that Frankl’s system was unique in a way that it would begin to treat a patient by stressing him more instead of trying to relieve him of it. And it worked as miraculously as the tenth century Chinese inoculation where they injected the patient with the same virus they wanted to protect him from to immunize him from future viral attacks of the sort. However, the way in which Viktor E. Frankl stressed his patients was surprising. His psychotherapeutic method began with insisting the patient to find a meaning in life, hence his best-seller book, Man’s Search For Meaning (Have you read this book yet? Please do. It’s enlightening!).

That brings me to my topic. At some point in our lives, we all wonder if there is any purpose to this meticulously elaborate drama of life. We ask ourselves, for example, where do we fit in the grand scheme of universe? What does it mean if we lie on top of major ecological chains as ultimate beneficiaries of all that universe has to offer – why exactly does this universe seem to be at our service? These questions have substance and they demand answers just as substantial. Everything that matters hangs delicately on these questions.

We, as human beings, have an innate tendency to find our answers – to know the reason of our creation, to shake sense of all that is out there in relation to our own self and its connection with the universe. We are sometimes referred to by the evolutionary scientists as the only intelligent design that inhabits the universe. Of several hundred million different species of Earth and counting, it’s really flattering to know this but it has its downside: we can’t just wake up in the morning and leave to make a living unless we have figured out what is it that we want to live for. Even a jackass is smarter than us in that it just grazes away when it has to and doesn’t really need to grapple with this conundrum.

During my discussions with people, i have discovered that the very term “purpose” induces great anxiety in most of them and they don’t want to pursue the discussion any further. While they might have their own reasons to do that, the reason I’ve been frankly cited at times is that purpose, in its own cold, calculative and mechanistic manner, tends to kill freedom. And its totally understandable. If you wake up in the dead of the night hungry as a wolf and aim for the fridge with a clear purpose in your head to eat something, you definitely won’t be much amused with a Santa Claus, should you find one, standing in his chariot blocking your way. In fact, you might as well walk right through him! That’s the case with purposes. They block a significant number of exciting possibilities from entering your life. But then, you have to ask yourself what’s more important after all? Finding your destiny or living ‘one hell of a life.’

The decision, ultimately, rests with you.

Scum

Once upon a time, the only place whores were allowed to exist was the red-light district. Things have now changed – poverty has shoved them outta their bordellos into your streets like zombies in an apocalyptic break-out. Once upon a time, you sought them; now they seek you. They inhabit your dark alleys and public toilets, nurturing mortal viruses and whispering salacious utterances the dark melody of which you are familiar with but don’t pay attention to. And precisely for this very reason that you don’t pay attention, they have now stormed your bus terminals, railway platforms, markets and what not, seeking what’s legitimately theirs, offering you in place what’s not yours.

Their moans echo in your urban nights like the fuming cries of your laboring wives, except that they are cheaper to silence. Their rates rise and sink with the moon at night, so does their womanhood, so does your lust. You feast upon their starving bodies in order to feed their burning stomachs. You are too generous, and they? They are just scum.

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I feel it necessary to mention here that i don’t advocate immodesty or obscenity anywhere; particularly not in writing because it’s timeless and stays there long after its creation. But I feel things like this should be discussed more often. Taboo needs to be redefined. Talking about ‘bad things’ is not necessarily bad. Doing them is.

Void

When God created us, he left an aching void in us that could only be filled up by His love. Therefore, mankind embarked on a painstaking journey to find Him back and since nobody had actually seen God or knew what He looked like, the only tool they had to identify Him was the love-void inside of them: whatever filled that void up was to be the God!

As long as His Beauty transcended the reach of their senses, they kept searching for it until they caught a reflection of it somewhere. Every time that happened, the caravan would halt there, closely inspect the thing that’s apparently exuding the Light of God, term it as mere illusion, discard it (or carry it as a relic) and move on. The ancient journey stretches to and continues up until our time.

Our unconscious mind is a mysterious, intricate web of memories, lived and default. The Promise of Alast عہدِاَلَست is one such default memory that’s not actually lived by our bodies (although our souls were made witness to it in The World of Souls i.e. عالمِ اَرواح), is weak and hazy and lacks objective details like all other memories – but amazingly, it has a surprising capacity to override much stronger memories in order to storm our conscious mind to remind us that we have a Beloved to seek. The dormant yearning, thus catches fire. The torture it brings is familiar to us all.

Our love-void is like a massive black hole consistently drawing us into anything that resembles God in the least. It could be anything from purity to strength to character to beauty because God alone is the origin of all likable attributes. Even if we encounter a single one of these traits, in the least of degrees, in somebody or something, we might feel immensely attracted to them because of our predisposition to fill up the void in ourselves, and start loving them. We can love them for as long as they stay true to our idea of God. Obviously, none but God fulfills this promise. So there come disappointments and the love eventually fades away with time as we start again to seek His Beauty until we find someone else. Only this time round, we make sure they last longer in the face of our godly ideal.

People ask if the journey ends somewhere. No, it doesn’t. They’ll keep asking for more. At least, that’s the case with the perfect lover and the perfect Beloved: no one can love Allah more than Muhammad (S.A.W.) did, yet in His last days He used to say, “Forgive me, God, I couldn’t know Thee as I should have.” You see, he yearned for even more of His love.

Don’t you hate your Nafs ever. It’s something that eventually gets you to your destination. What happens when you place an obstacle in a fast moving river. The water initially stops, gathers around the obstacle and its level begins to rise. The river gains greater strength near the obstacle until it either breaks it apart or sweeps it along. Same goes for Nafs. While attempting to resist our pursuit of Beauty by engaging us in distractions, it only manages to be an obstacle in the course of the free river of Love flowing inside of us. Every time that happens, our river stops for a while, we feel that we are missing something important though we might not know exactly what it is and we may even fall into depression. But ultimately we break away the obstacle and come out stronger and nearer to God in the journey of love. That’s how it goes. Had there been no obstacle, there would have been no progress either, see?

Last and the most important question: How can you gain His love in this world? There’s a mystic saying about it: there are as many paths to God as there are human souls on earth. However, there are some baby steps that we can take. Read about the people who actually gained His love. Drop your guard for your inner sense of Beauty in order to let it guide you freely. But above and beyond everything else, read Allah. He, of all the beings, knows how do we get to Him and He has made no secret of the Path. The opening chapter of Quran, Surah Fatiha, consists solely of the supplication that addresses this fundamental need of ours: اھدنا الصراط المستقیم i.e. Guide us to the right Path and it seems like, as Dr. Israr says, the whole of Quran that follows, is a divine response to this supplication.

So it’s definitely well worth a read. But what happens when you first open it? I’ll hopefully write on this later and I’m quite positive you’ll be able to relate!

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P.S. This was originally written in response to a host of questions posed by an old fellow who grew up mainly in a liberal atmosphere but felt a growing void and a yearning for the divine inside of her. I just wanted to connect the two using Iqbal, Dr. Israr and Dr. Rafiuddin. Another thing that i had in my mind while writing this, was a casual discussion with a fellow blogger. Please feel free to comment, add, discuss or correct!