Life and Times Blog


Ten years ago.
Take a trip back ten years ago. I was 16. “Terrorism” was a marginal word. Zimbabwe was one of Africa’s shining stars. Iraq was dodgy, but not broken. 9 million fewer people were killed in the Congo.I hadn’t finished matric. I was a better driver than I am now. My, and my friends, eyes sparkled a little more ambitiously.
Julius Malema was just a name. Economies were buoyant. 3G sounded like a cool skateboard.
The world changes rapidly. As much as it all changes, it all ends.

Today’s thoughts.
A lot needs your attention every day. To begin with you need to get out of bed. You need to drive to work. You need to do tasks A & B to make it to evening, tasks C & D to plan for life in 3 years time, tasks E & F to patch some past event. Thousands and thousands of thoughts a day.
Any given day or agenda of an individual life is quite full. As full as it all is, it all ends.

But there is one Constant, one Absolute, one Eternal.

Say: He is God, the One and Only! God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him.

To live with this belief, is to live with sincerity (Ikhlas) to the Truth.


March 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Pop Idols

Ah yes, a post about Idols.
I don’t do TV much, but watched a brief clip of Idols auditions this evening.
Imagine everyone had a small window of opportunity to explore the possibility of achieving their dreams rapidly. The Quran says in Surah Layl : “Verily the ends you strive for are diverse”.

So everyone has a different ambition (drrream) they hope they could achieve. Well not everyone but at some point or the other, most do. Imagine giving them a chance to fast track their way to achieving it. Just the mere possibility of achieving it, let alone fast-tracking it, is just an awesome concept. That’s what Idols does. It opens that possibility. Sure some people just borrow the popstar dream because it seems like a quick way to success, any success, but a lot of those contestants seem fervent about it.
(quick note, I KNOW that the point of a dream or ambition is the pursuit, and without the pursuit, the achievement is empty, victory without struggle is empty).

Imagine a contest where people could all line up for their dream, and have a 30 second slot to prove their worthiness, people who want to be master scholars, great lawyers, amazing writers,professional golfers, wonderful care givers, entrepreneurs…(theres a show in the UK called Dragons Den, that does the same as Idols for entrepreneurs) given a quick shot at the chance of getting there, sooner.
(repeat:quick note, I KNOW that the point of a dream or ambition is the pursuit, and without the pursuit, the achievement is empty, victory without struggle is empty).

To have an aim, an aspiration and not to be able to reach it is soooo very very sad and potentially shattering. But its far worse to have a gaping vaccuum of no aspiration.

On a spiritual note, I read from a scholar who said that whats so very sad is that most people don’t even aspire to closeness with their Creator. He said not to eeeeveeeen ASPIRE is tragedy. The pursuit of that is long, tough, but not to even be at the base point of aspiration is tragic. It resonated…

For those without an aspiration:

Surah Layl
1. By the Night as it conceals (the light);
2. By the Day as it appears in glory;
3. By (the mystery of) the creation of male and female —
4. Verily, (the ends) ye strive for are diverse.
5. So he who gives (in charity) and fears (Allah),
6. And (in all sincerity) testifies to the Best —
7. We will indeed make smooth for him the path to Bliss.
8. But he who is a greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient.
9. And gives the lie to the Best —
10. We will indeed make smooth for him the Path to Misery;
11. Nor will his wealth profit him when he falls headlong (into the Pit).
12. Verily We take upon Ourselves to guide.
13. And verily unto Us (belong) the End and the Beginning.
14. Therefore do I warn you of a Fire blazing fiercely;
15. None shall reach it but those most unfortunate ones
16. Who give the lie to Truth and turn their backs.
17. But those most devoted to Allah shall be removed far from it —
18. Those who spend their wealth for increase in self-purification,
19. And have in their minds no favor from anyone for which a reward is expected in return,
20. But only the desire to seek for the countenance of their Lord Most High.
21. And soon will they attain (complete) satisfaction.

March 6, 2009 Posted by | Posted | , , , , | 7 Comments


I attended a presentation this evening on 1000 years of Islamic contribution.
The presenter set out the major achievements on a slideshow.
820 – Event y
915 – Event x
982 – Event z

It was amusing to see the span of a 1000 years set out on single slide.As if 1000 years was just a series of some small episodes.
But then I thought, 1000 years IS just a series of small episodes. In the context of the history of the world, and the infinite hereafter, time in centuries, or decades of centuries, is trivial. But from our immediate vantage point time looks very different.It does so annoy me when people talk about the Spanish Islamic Era, or the Timbuktu Kingdom and ask, ” but what happened?”, these were empires that existed over 400-600 years. It wasn’t one thing that just “happened”. Try and fathom what the world will look like in SIX HUNDRED YEARS.

Why then do we find our own lives so devastatingly important? Our own episodes so poignant? Because, they are our own. And they are not inside, they are closer than inside. They ARE theee inside.

I also cleaned up the contacts list on my cellphone. Well I got to the letter “D” and had deleted 69 contacts.
69 contacts – it was a summary of the vicissitude of the last 2-3 years. Some changes that had happened in the last 4 months, some in the last 3 years. People I no longer knew: “Accounts Ahmed”, passwords that were no longer relevant: ” Deloitte PC- *”, people I still know, but am not in contact with.
Theres a deeper metaphor there, but some other time…

March 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments


My Casio died an unbecoming death.My Casio F-91W.
It died on my bookshelf. I was clearing some paperwork (which included 5 well deserved traffic fines) when I saw it. Its strap was broken. The black rubber strap.
I didn’t buy the metal links strap , which was R10 more, because I thought it betrayed the rugged simplicty of the device. Most of you will know the model, its got a big digital face, three full buttons and one semi-button on the top left.
Its been around for ages.

I bought this particular model, my third, at a busy bus stop on a Sunday morning in Bamako, just before boarding a 20 hour bus ride to Timbuktu. It was R35, all too expensive, but I bought it with a bunch of banana’s, so it was ok.

It was only 8 months old, but the watch had with it the dust of the Sahara, the ocean salts of the Red Sea, the sweat of the 94.7 cycle challenge. We had been around. It was the repository not of mere memories, but of epic experiences. And it died on a suburban bookshelf.
Its just above me to the right as I type this, but tomorrow I will give it away. Not so I can give it away but so that it will release me of the sadness, of the dire irony of its demise.

I don’t keep memento’s, because I don’t like clutter, but me and the Casio, we still had things to do together. Experiences to share, challenges to conquer. In its broken form, it doesn’t want me.

On a bookshelf, deprived of the opportunity to fulfill its purpose, it died. I think that maybe…it wanted to die. A life on a suburban bookshelf, was no life for its true cavalier spirit. The irony of being laid idle with books, that speak of great ideas, places, history, was cruel.

I hope I’m never the person to keep anyone else on a bookshelf, I hope i’m never the suppressor of a spirit. I hope, if/when I lay myself on a bookshelf, that I won’t want to die, that I’ll imagine the bookshelf to be the Serengeti, the archipelago, the barrier reef.

( I googled it to attach an image, and saw that its used by terrorists too, for the Uhm-rikan customs officer who’s reading this to approve my visa, I aint no terrace-rist)Casio F-91W

March 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 13 Comments