Swimming Against the Tide

Conversations on the Ark
Swimming Against the Tide
Conversations on the Ark
Swimming Against the Tide

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: These are draft pages subject to review.

True Stories That Inspire 
Pioneers of Malay Shia Presence in Singapore

From 1985 onwards it was noticed that some malay muslims in Singapore asked to attend the urdu Muharram majaalis. For their benefit a short précis of the speaker’s sermon was translated every night. These malay brethren belonged to a group called the Himpunan Belia Islam (HBI) or Muslim Youth Assembly that numbered about four hundred persons. They had been staunch followers of the Wahabi sect . Then, with better access to authentic Islamic books and personalities and the uplifting islamic revival after the Iranian revolution, they began to recognise the truth in shia teachings. Valuable assistance through direct teaching or arranging educational programs came from many well wishers including brothers Javad Souhani, Dabbagh, Syed Ahmed Baragbah and Syed Husin Shahab.

Avid readers, they possessed the determination to seek the truth. They had been blessed with open minds and sincere hearts . Above all, they had the courage to take the tough actions to change once the true path was found. Initially, led by Brother Muhammad Ithinin Kasmin, seven of them ( brothers Farok,Habib, Hizbullah,Ithnin, Jahari, Rahim and Shaaban ) accepted the Shia faith, and in due course most of the rest also became Shia Ithna ’Asheri muslims – the first time that local malays had embraced these beliefs. Describe it as a historic event or a modern miracle , there is no doubt that later generations will continue to thank and pray for these pioneers who put them on a path that brings happiness and inner peace in this world and rewards in the hereafter. (taken from: Shia in Singapore).

Every one of these pioneers had to swim against strong tides, face his or her own unique challenges, make difficult choices and sacrifices, deal with moments of doubts and uncertainties. Some were subjected to rebuke from friends and family, others were admonished about all kinds of consequences and losses. Some of their inspiring stories will be added in this chapter in due course in sha Allah. 

True Stories That Inspire 
In Search of Infinity

This is a personal account of the lives of a couple about the choices they made, the decisions they took, and the path they tread that took them close to Allah(s) and Ahlulbayt(a)

They have been successfully swimming against the tide and hope to inspire others who may be  getting carried away by the strong currents in the direction of disbelief. This true story demonstrates that  in the Muslim ummah there are families who are patient during difficulties and have absolute faith in Allah(s). They remain steadfast even in the most challenging times. They are willing to sacrifice their comfort for the comfort of others. Their faith in Allah(s) is so strong that they are willing to give away all their savings and all their back-up to help a mo’min brother, because, they know that the true Raziq is Allah(s) and He(s) is the one who gives sustenance. 

May Allah swt bless this marvelous couple for their efforts to benefit us all.

Please click here to read their amazing story. 

True Stories That Inspire 
Patience & Perseverance of a Seminary Student Saves the Day

Experiences are an important part of life. Their value is very unique and from one perspective are more valuable than knowledge which is limited to books and concepts. As a human being, everyone is trying to seek their respective goal and in case of a seminary student one tries to get proximity of Allah SWT by gaining relevant knowledge of different branches of religion and then imparting the same to society. However this gaining and imparting of knowledge for a religious student is not limited to intellectual activity but he wants to feel those spiritual pleasures and connection with his Lord which were narrated and reported to him with regards to other senior scholars. In short , he tries to become a prophet at his own level having similar spiritual and mental state.

This young student also embarks on such a journey and reaches the city of knowledge inhabited by luminous scholars. At first he is very happy and is expecting that, God willing, with the help of knowledge and teachers and specially through intercession of Spiritual leaders [AS], he’ll reach his desired objective. As time passes, he sometimes starts feeling sad and down, because the things which he was expecting, and had heard about , were not occuring. He is now struggling to understand what is going wrong and in the mean time also trying to seek assistance from various personalities and other sources mentioned above.

When a person travels to a city to earn a livelihood he is attracted to and advised by many people and may get offers for various types of work from different persons, each claiming that his offer is the best. Similarly, a person who seeks spiritual livelihood faces the same situation and different methods are presented to him from different areas. In this situation there are many risks ,e.g. the person offering a program may not yet be qualifed or if qualified may not be suitable for the mindset of newcomer. The young student was also going through this phase. Different supportive and caring scholars and students were providing guidelines but he was not getting the REQUIRED and EXPECTED answers.

As time passed, sometimes the intensity of his expectation used to increase and resulted in spiritual pain such that even his morals and ethics were getting impacted negatively especially with family. Seeing this condition he sometimes used to wish to return to his old life because in that life, although he felt unwell and empty, he had at least learnt to live with that sickness whereas now he was trying to cure his sickness with some medicines which in turn were amplifying the same.

Fortunately, these pains were not permanent. He had some powerful pain killers which included remembrance of his Lord, intercession of Spiritual leaders and a loving and supportive family. This student tried hard to continue with the journey. Alhamdulillah, his perseverance and patience was eventually rewarded when he found some marvelous teachers and started receiving gems of knowledge and wisdom.

He started to realize that the root cause of his problem had to do with his expectations. He was struggling to get what HE WANTS whereas if he had struggled to get what ALLAH SWT WANTS for him then things would have been quite different. He realized that since beginning his objective was to acquire knowledge to reach Allah SWT and his Lord has already given him that opportunity. Two things were happening at same time :

1) Giving – which is the opportunity to acquire knowledge
2) Withholding – Absence of spiritual satisfaction as per his expectation

Both were actually the signs and manifestation of Allah SWT – By giving religious knowledge which was his main objective, Allah SWT was quenching his intellectual thirst and, by not giving the spiritual states and conditions per his expectations Allah SWT was conveying to him that his expectations were not in line with his objectives.

It took him nearly six years of patience and perseverance to finally understand the answers from the Merciful Lord and appreciate the fact that he was being given everything which was needed.
He could now hear the whole world shouting to him: “ do your work with sincerity and leave the rest to Allah SWT”. When you leave matters to Allah SWT then you don’t expect from Him what you want; rather you expect what He wants. If He gives you anything you are content and happy and if He does not give you something even then you are content and happy. This is one of the biggest lesson which this young student learnt from life. As if the entire world is calling out to him with this verse of Hafiz:

تو بندگی چو گدایان به شرط مزد مکن
که دوست خود روش بنده پروری داند

Don’t worship like Beggars who stipulate wages

Friend Himself knows the method of Tutoring

True Stories That Inspire 
Firm Resolve of an Arkian Pays Off  

An arkian related his story of trying to earn an honest living amidst an ocean of corruption.

A group of 20 year olds who had recently graduated were chatting in the canteen of the college in an asian city. It was their last gathering before going their different ways in life after graduation. Some said they want to start their own business. Others said this would involve lot of unethical practices including having to bribe all and sundry to get anything done. The former replied that if you join a company, the bosses there will make you do the same dirty practices. Why benefit others instead of your own business. The youngest of them, a naive youth (ny), not at all street-smart, with “unemlpoyable” written all over him, piped up and said: “ If in this country there is no way to make an honest living I will leave and find a job in another country where I am not asked to bribe ” There was silence and some giggles and the conversation moved on to other things.

Ny came from a very very poor family. Was surprised at himself for saying what he said but felt as if he had always wanted to earn that way. So he decided to own it. Made a firm intention to pursue honest livelihood like his father and uncles and do whatever it takes to get there.

Allah swt made it possible for him to study further in London by granting his poor but honest father an overseas assignment. Ny worked there for about 7 years as a trainee and qualified professional without having to adopt any unethical practices. Was able to get a transfer to his firm’s affiliate when he wanted to return to his home town. He knew that even in that corruption ridden city, this largest public accountant’s firm, owned entirely by muslim professionals, did not indulge in corrupt practices. Ethically oriented companies – some of the largest local and many MNCs tended to be clients of this firm in those days.

Implementing policies like no bribes to be paid was not easy for the firm but it was doable. Example: Most Income tax officers demand bribes under threat of disallowing genuine expenses and increasing tax liability by millions. Knowing that his firm does not bribe, our NY had to face difficulties. When they summoned him to be there at 10am to discuss the client company’s tax returns, they made him sit till noon on wooden benches outside their room while the bribe payors were ushered in as soon as they arrived. They were served tea, and there would be sound of laughter and chit chat from the room. Ny would sit outside sweating from heat and feeling angry. The client’s tax return would be called fake, heavy fake tax liability would be imposed. The firm would then file appeal at several levels to get the tax reduced with varying degrees of success.

Having reached the partner level and desiring a change to less stressful living, ny agreed to get head hunted into a company that he knew to be ethical. He used to be in charge of auditing and tax for this company and was very impressed with their Business Ethics Policy and he loved these two sentences in it: “We do not want liars as managers. Even if the law is permissive, we will choose the course of highest integrity” (e.g. even if law allowed the company to pay a supplier within 90 days and he could not sue before that, the company would pay him within 30 days if it finds that an employee had inadvertently promised to pay within 30 days). Ny was personally involved in demoting and firing some competent employees for non compliances of Ethics Policy such as paying bribes. After 4 years he was chosen for an excellent expatriate assignment in a country with very little corruption. He worked there for 15 years in a corrupt free setting until his retirement.

Lesson for the youth: Aim high. Do not give in to unislamic practices even if most are doing it. With determination and hard work and duas and trust in Allah swt, nothing is impossible.

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Self Improvement - for Adults
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God will always try to wake one up during a person’s mid-life, which is between the ages of 35 and 45.
This call comes in different forms. Sometimes in dreams, sometimes when you hear a good sermon, sometimes a crisis, sometimes a tragedy.
All these ways are to pull you back so that you can prepare yourself for your return to God.
Some people are able to catch these messages but others fail to see it.
The obstacles that stop us from concentrating in meditation are as follows:

1. Attachment to material things. The more things we have the more we need to take care of it.
Our time and energy is wasted in maintaining these things. The possessions take us over. We become slaves to our possessions. So the trick is to draw a line between our needs and our desires.
We can make our lives very simple by only having what we absolutely need.

2. Attachment to our relationships. Learn to keep a little detached from your relationships.
The children that are born through you are not your possessions. You give them love and guidance but they are Gods souls.
If you were to lose anybody in your life – you should be prepared to accept it.
Enjoy and be peaceful with your relationships but when it ends – let it go.

3. Attachment to your body. We spend so much time and energy to make ourselves look different than how we are.
We should be comfortable with ourselves.
If we are possessed with how we look – that becomes a hindrance (difficulty).

4. Attachment to Wealth. Accumulation of wealth for the purpose of hoarding it is not part of any religion.
Use what you need and share what is excess.
When we are busy just making money so that we can accumulate, we have no time for anything else. There is no satisfaction and that ties us down.

5. Attachment to the past. When people have hurt us in the past, we can’t seem to shake it off.
We carry the anger with us in the present.
That anger takes us over. When we forgive we do ourselves a justice. We free ourselves.
Therefore, don’t waste time and energy into things that have happened in the past.
In fact, when someone hurts you – feel it for few minutes and then let go.
Do you keep garbage in your house or you take it out?
Similarly, remove all anger and throw it out.
Finally, “When you run after the world, the world never comes into your hands”.
The day you learn to detach (separate) yourself from this world and concentrate on your spiritual enlightenment that’s when the world will come after you.
But you will have no need for that world because you have found peace and tranquility (calm).