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Category Archives: Events

Eid Mubarak! I hope that you made many requests of God and they were answered.

However, if like many mumineen, you asked your fellow masjid / markaz irregulars to remember you in their duas, you may not have been as successful as you wished based on the latest
research:

In findings released just before Ramadan, researchers from Jamea have concluded that solicitations of “dua ma yaad” (DMY) lead to virtually no increase in actually being remembered in duas

However, like the subject of the study shows, it’s all about keeping a can-do attitude:

Ali was at a loss to explain his dismal DMY success, but remained defiant, “All this means is that I gotta step up my DMY game to a whole new level.”

Keep upping your game. And enjoy lunch.

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Thank you for sharing your fights with us. It’s made both of us feel so much better. It’s made us seem so much more normal. And we’re both happier to be more normal. We’re stronger for it.

It’s one of the particular foibles of being newly married that you go through the same fights as everyone else experiences. You’re adjusting to sharing your life with a new person.

These are fights about social lives, sleeping, waking, doing the work, allocating responsibilities. One side might be working whilst the other isn’t. One might be adapting to a new place and a new way of doing things. Neither, probably, really wants to change.

It is also a particular foible that you think your fights are unique and unprecedented.

You fear you’re the first couple ever to have that fight. And it’s such a fundamental fight that you fear that you’ve gotten it all wrong.

They seem earth shatteringly important. They could even be marriage ending.

The most important decision of your young adult life and you’ve managed to blow it by marrying this person with who you fight all the time.

So it is refreshing when your fiends share their fights with you. You feel so much better. Thank you for sharing.

The Romans had a fine tradition of never presuming to write a man’s (it was always a man’s)  biography until he died. I have become convinced of the wisdom of this tradition.

Death changes how we understand life.

Death is the final point within any individuals story. We know that wherever the narrative arc begins, no matter where we find the stage of the story now, its ultimate destination is death’s door.

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Recently, I’ve started reading comic books. I got interested in comic books because I watched the AMC TV series Comic Book Men. CBM is a one-hour unscripted television series set inside Kevin Smith‘s comic book shop Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash in Red Bank, New Jersey.

What hooked me about the show was how enthusiastic and passionate everyone is about comic books.

When you come across someone who has real passion for something it transforms how you look at that thing. It rewrites your low-level understanding of it from something that exists (but you don’t particularly know or care that it exists) into something that has depth, nuance, variety and life all of its own. Everything is more alive when you find someone whose passion and knowledge brings it to life before your eyes. Someone who can convey that passion to you through the tone of their voice, the look in their eyes and the breathless catch in their throat.

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The metaphor of life as journey is common. When we talk about ‘two paths’ that ‘diverged in a wood’ we know that Frost was talking about the life journey and only incidentally narrating a stroll through the woods.

I have been reflecting on that journey for the last day. And I find myself wondering about the metaphor. I find the metaphor troubling. Troubling because it is too comforting. Life as journey wraps the experience of living in an unsatisfactory cocoon of certainty.

When we think of journeys nowadays, we experience them as they exist now, transformed by the certainties of the modern age. We have certain starting points, fixed end points, mapped roads and ready built airports. We have real-time communications with our destinations. A modern day journey is as adventurous (in the first world) as slicing bread. As a result, they are on average as uniquely unchallenging as journeys have ever been in the history of human travel.

We have banished the uncertainties that made a journey akin to life. We have not (alas) banished the uncertainties of life.

If life is a journey, then that journey must now be understood by parable. Travel has always historically been capricious and changeable. The closest parable to that journey that I can find is the Israelites wondering through the desert for forty years in search of the promised land.

A journey where you are alienated from everything left behind, the present is the hostile ever present risks of being stuck in a desert, have only the vaguest idea of where you are going, are seduced into worshipping false gods and where death heralds the entry into the promised land is a profoundly honest reflection of the true nature of life’s journey.

This is a quiet prayer. A quiet prayer for all those who are (just) holding themselves together. Those who come across as calm, self-assured and confident. Those who laugh, smile and celebrate for others. Those who open their hearts to share the weight of someone else’s burden. Those who tread the world with a lightness of step. Those who bring joy into our lives.

Those who know that all of this is possible only because of a frayed thread that holds out a brave front to the world. Those who worry constantly about the fresh fraying that might break that brave front. Those who know all the heavy cares held back by a single stitched line of bravery.  Those who want to go back make impossible changes so they might not have to put on such a brave front.

I know that feeling. I know that fraying. For you, all of you, all of us, this is a quiet prayer.

I have spoken many thoughts, heard many words, and shared many perceptions in the last month. People talking about people. People talking about their colleagues, friends, lovers and spouses. People talking about the most important relationships of their lives, sometimes going through their most important moments.

Throughout these shared moments, one constant theme I keep finding is how important context tends to be. A person experiencing a rough moment at work, going through a stressed time at home, finds that their relationship with their significant other suddenly is broken. Not because the relationship is flawed but because the significant other has just been fired, has a difficult emotional challenge at home or  cannot cope with another challenge in their lives.

And yet it is the relationship that cracks. Lives radically changed – maybe for a time even shattered – by a perfect storm of circumstance.

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One of the most effective ways to unite a newly formed team is hate. When the right kind of hate is present, nothing can match its ability to create the togetherness, camaraderie and inter-reliance that forges a fantastic team.

Not all hate is created equal in this regard. What you need is the most difficult kind of hate to find. You need broad, reasonable personal hate. When you have this magic ingredient, teams join together inseparably.

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Over the last three years I’ve been pushing myself to be more sociable. Despite this I’m still clinging on to my self image as an introvert. There’s only so much socialising I could endure. So it had to be limited. Attend a few events and then off. Interactions restrained within comfortable limits.

I was satisfied with this balance. I’ve a few close work friends. I’ve some good people to chat with sociably. A few more with whom I enjoy spending time. Enough to keep a simple introvert happy.

You see, introverts idealise isolation. They see it as the ultimate Zen state where the draining power of social interaction can’t hurt them.  Where all those different, changing, complex people can’t grind them down any more.

Then last September I changed jobs.

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BEAUTIFUL DAY Today has been a day of many contrasts: each thing in its own enjoyable and each compounding contrast adding its own particular brightness to the day.

Today was a good day.

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