Saturday, June 30, 2012

Now I understand why people get married..

So they don't have to attend other people's weddings and other awkward social events alone feeling like total loners.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Touch of Genius?

I had an interesting conversation with someone once on how all greatly influential men in history have very little known about their children. As in the greatness does not seem to transcend into future generations. We wondered why that was...was it because these strong-natured men were so caught up in achieving their own success that they neglected their posterity? Or was it that greatness is something innate that cannot be taught? Think about it, Albert Einstein, Alexander the Great, Galileo, Aristotle, Caesar, Isaac Newton, Darwin, Van Gogh, Shakespeare, Mozart, Freud, Karl Marx. Who are their children? Did they leave any mark in this world? Maybe, maybe their kids were extremely bright, intelligent, and successful but evidently not as much as their parents. If they had been, we would know their names. You would think that someone with such an influential personality, possessing such revolutionary ideas or strong leadership qualities would be able to instill those into their children and breed that sort of excellence, no?

I think this person was pondering this question, because he himself has been very successful. Yet, his children are just average. They have normal jobs living with normal families doing fairly well in life, but no major world or life changing successes to speak of.

I didn't say it to him at the time, but to myself I slowly began to formulate the understanding that perhaps being a "successful" and influential person requires a personality that is different from the norm. They might become great leaders, thinkers and innovators who left their mark in history, but a lot of these individuals possessed subpar communication abilities. Those “people skills” you often hear about are an important facet of an average personality that these individuals seem to lack. It is interesting that in our recent era two individuals who are very influential also had similar things said about them; Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. People who have interacted closely with both have said they were near genius, yet were very demanding, unpredictable, and at times very difficult to work with.

It makes sense though. Not everyone can be genius; that has to be a special trait reserved for only an elite group. And while there probably isn’t be a defined formula for genius, but it looks to me that perhaps these geniuses are so in tuned with certain parts of their brain, the parts that focus on creating, designing, seeing out of the box that they simply can’t get it to function when it comes to simple tasks such as having a casual conversation with an acquaintance. It’s well known that many highly acclaimed men in history were reclusive and avoided public interaction. Maybe they were snooty and thought the masses to be beneath them or maybe their brain just couldn’t do the ‘normal’ social interaction as well as everyone else? Relationships with parents, siblings, spouses and colleagues can all be strained with an erratic personality. Yet, is it a price that’s worth paying when you can be highly admired worldwide and have numerous books and movies created about you? So what would you rather be. Socially inept or genius? Perhaps all those people’s children saw the strangeness in their successful father’s personality and unconsciously decided they’d rather be normal and unknown. Or maybe if we dig deeper, we will find that those successful men had a childhood incident leading them to become the socially incompetent individuals they are, it caused them to block out all human emotion and focus all that energy towards greatness. So then it must be that we all need to have childhood scars and tortured souls to become genius? Should I go home and start giving Ali traumatic experiences so he can grow up to be genius? Maybe I’m thinking too much into this….Haha! I’m just wondering what it is I can do to guide my own child in the direction of being a strong leader and innovator. The more I think about it though, the more I am okay with him growing up to be anything as long as he’s happy. Everyone wants what’s best, but sometimes what’s best is just being yourself no matter how ‘average’ that is.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

So I was thinking about what to get my Dad for Father's Day and it lead to this:

It's natural for children to be close and drawn towards their mothers. Moms are nurturing, they're the ones we spend more time with, they scold us comfort us and basically teach us how to live life. All throughout history there is countless poetry and much literature around the bond shared by mothers and their children. What I find scarce is the topic of Fathers. Women are expressive and open about how they feel. They shower you with their love minutes after they scold you for something. Men in general are hesitant to voice their emotions, but it does not in the slightest way mean that they are void of them. Fathers, as I grow up I realize, may appear to have a more subtle role but the magnitude of it is indescribable.

 In my own life, the role played by my father is enormous. Outwardly my dad was like most fathers during our childhood. He wasn't the diaper changing, helping out with feeding time type of dad. He worked hard to earn an honest living and support a large family, just like all good fathers did. He did play with us and was always loving, but he wasn't involved in our day to day life like mom was. And it made sense, dads generally weren't as hands on at the time also we were 5 girls so naturally we were more inclined towards mom. But this is the point where he stopped being like the traditional 80's father. Everything else set him apart from every man I knew (still know). 

He has taught us so many lessons consciously and unconsciously. One of the few things I heard him repeat many times throughout my childhood was "God may not have given me great wealth or a big name or even siblings to call my own blood, but he gave me five daughters. You five are my pride, my honor, my strength. You are all I have." And he truly meant it. Never once in all my life did I hear him show regret for not having a son. Many other people sure did express it, they even tried to console him about the fact, but he always believed so firmly that God gave him what was best. The way he treated all the women in his life with so much love and respect it taught us how a man should behave. His relationship with his mother, his wife, his daughters he dealt each of them with such perfection. Facing the pressure of all these responsibilities cannot be an easy feat for anyone, but I believe it has made him a much better man than anyone I know. 

Abu gave to us which many fathers I think sometimes don't do with their young children is the comfort of being able to talk to him frankly. He made an honest effort as we grew up to discuss problems in our lives, to guide us and encourage us and to make us see the bigger picture. When faced with big decisions and even big problems which affected our family Abu included us all. At the dinner table all of our words were given the freedom to be expressed no matter how small in size we were. 

Growing up what I admire most about him was his level headedness, how he always takes an objective view. Even when trying to disciple us, he would discuss the issue so logically that we could not really argue against it. He wasn't about scolding us, he left that to mom. Mom was the one who challenged us to get As if we brought home Bs or who suggested to each one of us to pursue a sensible career like medicine.(none of us did ha). Dad did support her in all those views, but his teaching was more geared at telling us to not just achieve success but be better people and to work hard and achieve our goals no matter how much we struggle and even if we fail it would not take away from our efforts. 

My Abu's biggest encouragement was to constantly improve ourselves to be a better human. Not just a good Muslim, not a good wife not a good daughter but a good person. He always says if you keep your intentions honest (achi niyat) and your heart pure (saaf dil) becoming all those other things will be inevitable. He constantly emphasizes the importance of being honest and humble. Of course like all parents he is proud of us when we excel in our careers and profession, but he always reminds us that worldly gains hold no value when measured against strong character. His biggest encouragement is to be someone with a kind heart.  Even when faced with some very ugly hearted people in life, he remained rational and sought the good in them. People who hurt and betrayed him he still continued to be kind to. To me this has been highly commendable. He always says that the Nabi (salallah hu alahi walahi wasalam) before bringing Islam was a good person. People trusted him and loved him for his honesty, sincerity, humanity, and generosity before they followed his teachings as a prophet. The message he brought is remembered because of his nature and how he presented this message. Of course I always saw my father pray 5 times a day, but he never enforced anything upon us, not namaz, Quran, nor hijab. His only major rule was modesty. What I learned from my father and his relationship with God was when you love in such a manner, pleasing your Love becomes your purpose of existence. Ritualistic practices are a means to express this love and devotion. 

My father may not be a man who I can boast about of having a highly successful career or tons of wealth and fame, He did not build great monuments that the world can remember him by or do anything spectacular that the world may praise him. But I can say that the people he has touched, respect and value him greatly. The remarkable things he has done for his family his future generations will always be indebted to him for. He raised 5 daughters with utmost love, care and compassion. I remember when we came to find that my sister's former husband had physically abused her, it was the first time I ever heard him shout so loudly at anyone. "How could you even raise a finger on my pure and virtuous daughter who I nurtured like a gentle flower to never let light wind even harm?" Those words made me cry a lot, because of how much truth they held. After that experience the way he stood by my sister and became her pillar of support he taught us again to be strong, to never let anyone else try to break us if they felt intimidated by our inner strength. My dad taught me that a strong man worthy of respect is one who has many emotions, but does not use physical might to express that strength. He shows it by coping with those emotions with maturity and patience (sabr). 

I love my father for all the things he has taught me are invaluable. He has his flaws, as all mankind does. But the way he has lead his life, and the way he has taught us to lead ours is so admirable to me he is a true living role model. People who don't know him well come to think he is not a man of strong nature. Some have even gone as far as to say my mother is more dominant than him. What they do not know about him is how his soft and scarcely spoken words hold so much more power to those who care about him. How my mother may have shouted at us when we did wrong as children, but when our father merely looked at us with disappointment it hurt much more. He did not need words for us to feel that. Because he loved us so dearly, even the slightest of his disapproval was agonizing.  His love and approval was our strength. The strength we needed to go out and face this world. To know that regardless of what gender we are it is our character and good intentions which will lead us to achieving great things. 
I love you, Abu. You are my Pillar of Strength, my Mentor, my Inspiration, and my Friend. 

Friday, June 08, 2012

Asleep to the world - Maulana Rumi

My entire existence is spent searching to do this.

Anyone who knows me well enough knows how affectedI am by the works of Maulana Rumi. I know in the past decade the western world has become highly fascinated with his work in romantic poetry. My own interest in this genre began far before who I knew who Maulana was. Something inside of me has always been drawn in that direction, but it was some time in the early 2000s during high school that I found a book at the library with his work and thus began my intrigue with Islamic Mysticism. I think I knew that this poetry wasn't about the type of love most people were using it for, which drew me towards it even more. This mystic has a message that my heart pulls me towards. Its a message only the heart can comprehend.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Ammi and Abu

The most influential people in my life are, without a doubt, my parents. I've minored in psychology, and although that doesn't mean much, this realization came to me during lecture one day in Personality Psychology. I must have known it unconsciously all along but it just somehow dawned on me that day as Professor Atwood described the single unifying theme present in each person's life which forms the foundation around which all their other actions, thoughts and experiences are based.

Every single important decision I have made involves me thinking about what my parents would think. I know all of this should be done for God and I think as I grew up it did become for Him. But how can I throw them and their teachings to the side? How can I not credit them? Everything I am is due to them, if I had been anyone else's child I would not be me. Apart from just morals, literally in everything I do I hope to please them. All throughout my academic career I was  focused on giving my parents the pleasure to say their daughter was intelligent. I became an accountant because my father is one and he was pleased to hear that I took interest in it. And even at times when I wanted to give up on passing the CPA exam I kept treading forward  because I knew the pride it would bring to him. Because in my mind, if I failed this I would disappoint them. Honestly, whether it was about dating a boy or dressing immodestly or failing the CPA exam I always feared disappointing them. I still do. I still juggle all the balls of life with marriage, motherhood and a career, because I know it brings them pride to see my success. And as a parent myself now, I understand that pride. I PRAY to have that sort of pride one day iA.  But you see, it was not that my parents were extremely rigid people who had harsh rules which made me feel suffocated and fearful of them not loving me if I disobeyed. School friends and people of other cultures would often ask me that, how I lived within such "overbearing limits"? But to me it wasn't that way at all. They didn't actually openly dictate to me how I should live my life. They had set rules and they encouraged us with positive examples in a certain direction, but it wasn't ever that I felt their parenting was overbearing. In fact, with time I learned that even if their rules were pushed or broken, their love was never ending. That's what it was. Their love. They still accepted and stood by us no matter what. I have always been so deeply overwhelmed with just HOW much they love me (and all my siblings), how selfless and unconditional it is that I feel the only way to express my own gratitude and appreciation is to continue to make them proud. If I keep that thought in mind, I never ever feel that pleasing them is a negative element in my life. Honestly, obeying them and trying to please them is just natural to me. I enjoy it. There are so many other things in their life giving them so much to worry about, I thoroughly revel in the fact that they don't have to worry about me, because they know I have a good head on my shoulders and will do the right thing.

And now as I am in my late twenties and life is teaching me a thing or two about wisdom and parenting I can't help but fall more and more in love with the way they raised us. I am finally understanding that unconditional love and selfless devotion that only a parent can understand.