A Prayer in Ramadan/Ramzan

In all the trials of life and pain, doubt and heartache, love and forgiveness of each other how uplifting to ask for Gratitude to soar like an eagle above the earth. The earth where our troubles and joys are found but Gratitude takes one inner and higher. It is to the other world. Another world where equality and peace reign upon the earth or otherworldly, altogether spiritual, non-material.

Ask first that your Gratitude for all you have shines high like an eagle so that in comparison your troubles seem small and as such you are given great strength and confidence to face and inshallah overcome them by yourself or with the assistance of some anonymous solidarity.

Oh Allah, God of Abraham, Solomon, Moses, Mary, Jesus, Muhammad (peace be upon them All) improve my gratitude/shukar to You Alone. Not gratitude to my memories (good or ill) nor to my personal achievements, nor to wealth or poverty, nor to charity, nor to my sense of arrogant self-righteousness, even though I may feel justified. All Justice is Yours to dispense or otherwise.

Gratitude to You Alone oh Allah. All is from You.

Nothing is of my doing but by choosing of this or that thing, this or that emotion to dominate my mind and heart. Nothing is of my doing but what I choose and accountable for.

By Musa Askari

Seven Days Seven Heavens – Ali Zahir

Introduction by Hasan Askari, published 1991

Poetry is still one of the dominant modes of reflection and self consciousness in the Orient. It has somehow survived amidst all the threats a growing industrial culture presents, particularly in its impersonalising effects. In spite of all the stark contrasts of poverty and wealth, power and powerlessness, poetry, whether it is traditional or modern, continues to impart to people’s minds and hearts a sense of idealism and warmth.

Ali Zahir (19th February 1947 – 16th March 2003) is from Hyderabad, one of the major cities in India, a meeting point of several streams of cultures, religions and languages. Formally ruled by a Muslim prince, and now a part of the Indian Republic, Hyderabad has gone through a series of political, economic and cultural transformations which have led to the breakdown of old values, both religious and humanitarian, giving way to imbalance between the personal and the collective dimensions of people’s lives. Though Hyderabad maintained for a considerable time a sense of communal harmony which was fast disappearing from the other parts of India, it has collapsed over the last two decades into periodic outbursts of inter-religious hatred and violence thus wrecking the eclectic foundations of its semi-feudal culture.

Writers have responded to the challenges of modern India in three distinct modes – traditionalist, marxist, and modernist. The traditionalist approach involves the continuation of the classical literary forms, nostalgia for the late mediaeval culture, and a formal adherence to the rules and forms of art and poetry. The Marxist or the progressive school which thrived from the middle forties to the late sixties rested on a confident ideological mood that art and literature should reflect the people’s struggle against capitalism and imperialism. The modernist approach came about as a reaction to both the traditionalist and the marxist perspectives and claims. It was a revolt against formalism, both of form and ideology. It reflected the cry of the lonely individual for identity, recognition and communication. All the three modes have been generally humanist an agnostic.

Ali Zahir’s poetry reflects the traditionalist respect for form and the modernists emphasis on subjectivity. Having experienced the changes his city has undergone over the recent decades and also having worked in Iran during the years preceding the revolution there, Ali Zahir could witness the extremes from spiritual vacuum to religious enthusiasm. He could see both outside and deep within himself an urgent need for a new religiosity or sensitivity to both the psychological and political challenges. His poetry is one of the modes in which he expresses this quest.

The search begins with perception and remembrance of the human situation, of that predicament that envelops all humanity. Ali Zahir takes notice of the tragedies of the communal riots right within his own city, and points to the irrelevance of all the instructions of philosophy and ideology.

At the edge of the death of each abstraction

There is the mother, sister, brother –

Such tangible realities

Noticing the failure of both secularism and religion to give to India any relief from poverty and exploitation, Ali Zahir says:

For the oppressed and poor and humble, philosophy is a mockery that drains their very life force.

In Tiananmen Square, he says:

O Lovers! O Philosophers!

Bear witness, witness the

Blood of Chinese youth.

However critical of all those abstractions which empty the nations of the resources of humanity, Ali Zahir is drawn to the metaphysical mystery at the heart of life’s expressions both in pain and creativity.

“What is all this, dream or reality?” he asks.

The mood of his beautiful poem, Seven Days, Seven Heavens, bears witness to his quest for harmony, for meaning, and for the unity of reality behind all number and image:

Seven days

Seven heavens unfurled

Seven colours

Seven sounds

Architects of harmony.

From chaos to order, from loss of meaning to recovery of purpose, there is both a lifelong striving and at times a sudden leap into the depths of one’s being.

Within the heart

A spring

And within the spring, a flame

And within this flame of elemental yearning

There is another flame

The one which we call life.

Life, that mysterious all-embracing joy overflowing every cup and even at times drowning in its ecstasy the cupbearers as well, is one unending call of love, both the caller and the called all at once. There is the hearth of all reality – there is the abode of meaning and purpose. Hence, Zahir so truthfully regards all life as continuous communication, and he wonders: “How many garments that one spark has changed?”

Drawn to the heart of his own mystery, rejoicing in the variety of colours that one colourless unity puts on, and waiting at sunrise to hear the call of the “white moments” inviting him to step inward and then look, Ali Zahir brings to us in his poetry a new sensitivity nurtured in pain, linked with loneliness – a new religiosity without forms and rituals but not without courage and responsibility for both our inner and outer transformation. Those who are looking for the unity of mind and heart will find in Zahir’s poetry one of its most moving examples from the Indian subcontinent.

Hasan Askari

See also Hasan Askari’s 1995 speech in Hyderabad on Spiritual Humanism at which Ali Zahir and Musa Askari were present…. Hasan Askari says… “On that morning I said to Ali Zahir well, still there is light in this country. And perhaps we should begin from here again. Because in Indian tradition no other culture today talks about the soul so clearly and so continuously as India does.”

Spiritual Family…

Knows God is One

Remembers God is One

Prays to only The One

Worships only The One

Knows “there are seven steps: Testimony(“tasdiq”)

Trust (“tawakkul”)

Patience (“sabr”)

Gratitude (“shukr”)

Remembrance (“zikr”)

Love (“hub”) and Gnosis (“irfan”)”

Reflects

Knows the difference between inner and outer

Free of collective identity hypnosis

Seeks knowledge

Loves wisdom

Knows it has a Soul, immaterial, immortal

Honours one another as Souls

As Souls knows its Priors

Fears God Alone

Is in awe of beauty

Loves beauty

Loves diversity

Speaks gently

Does not humiliate nor belittle

Forgives

Accepts forgiveness

Reconciles

Ready to offer comfort

Strives for justice

Longs for peace

Willing to make peace

Is at peace

Holds the lamp for others

Withdraws from the world daily

Emerges in to the world as peacemakers

Longs for silence to be Alone with The Alone

Acts without deliberation in the way of peace

Are conscious Beings

Are Universal Beings

Are Soul Beings…

By Musa Askari

Un-spiritual Family

Few things are perhaps as dangerous for one’s mental and spiritual life and nor as devastatingly manipulative as a dysfunctional family.

Behind the facade of togetherness and respectability there can lie an ocean of challenges concerning mental health, power, control, money, status, gaslighting, hypocrisy, betrayal, anger, shame and sheer emptiness to name but a few.

There can be little room for self exploration, self-doubt, reflection, critique and questioning of established family narratives as tools for enhancing family harmony and in turn possibly *spiritual life.

The softer, intimate, delicate and vulnerable avenues to peace and understanding are at worst lost and at best never allowed to flourish in an un-spiritual family (sacred or secular). These ambiguous, seen falsely as non-traditional, approaches are perceived as threats to the orthodoxy of belonging to and promoting one’s superior “family, sect or clan”.

It is a cult-like mindset where introspection is heresy and seeking reconciliation with equality of being is blasphemous.

To this add possible unresolved, unspoken, ignored and suppressed psychological trauma and one can see we are on dangerous ground. Inner unholy ground where any inquisitive soul naively searching for truth, love and reconciliation through faltering spiritual vulnerability, finding none reciprocated, may innerly call upon the psalm, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Furthermore, add also the desire for societal respectability, the golden ticket of high personal standing and one can conceive more clearly the horror of psychological “gods.”

A life of pious religious observance may become subservient to and disguise for domineering personas, to a biased discriminatory moral world view, and justification for attitudes about society and personal memories of suffering or triumph.

It is a reversal of universal transcending spiritual self-perception which should be subordinate to higher values of spiritual clarity, humility, universality, peace and secular common good.

Encase all of this in a deep desire within such un-spiritual families for controlling others, setting the narrative for others, laced with hardened divisive attitudes of superior victimhood status and it is clear to see the situation is treacherous.

It may go on for decades. One may be born into such families, marry into them and die having never escaped it because the protagonists can deploy self-righteous victimisation of self and others as a controlling mechanism with self-victimhood as a device to invoke sympathy from others, even their victims. Any resistance or requests for clarity can easily be manipulated to portray the victim as a villain or vice versa.

Personalities are deliberately and unconsciously moulded to manage, cope and ignore deep contradictions resulting from abusive behaviour under the worn out guise of “why don’t we all just get along?” Why not indeed? In practice this insincere question from the mouth of oppressors compensates as a token gesture for never truly having the desire to make positive changes, even minor changes that may enlarge the spectrum of empathy. Why not get along? Because not getting along is an addiction. It is power. Withholding reconciliation and all the peace it could bring is powerful and once tasted the allure is hypnotic. The mighty river of goodwill has been temporarily halted behind a dam built with stones of hatred and abuse.

As such, overtime, it becomes second nature, unconscious instinct, to deploy in public the conciliatory language of reasonableness and agreement while in private it is the language of reprimand and discord to silence others. Even the victims, for the sake of peace and acceptance, may play along with this double-life hypnosis hoping the olive branch of co-operation will be picked up.

What to speak of mental health, well-being and mindfulness for both the interchangeable roles of oppressors and victims? There is no mind, certainly none in the sense of higher spiritual clarity, rather mindlessness. There is no desire for a shared peaceful narrative and no wish for reconciliation in private life where it really matters. There in private the demons run riot. The true unmasked face of a manipulator finds expression with no onlookers. For even the “beast” must see the sunlight sometimes.

It is a show. The greatest show on earth, the un-spiritual family circus. The mental and emotional acrobatics are something to behold. It is as if the silence of not acknowledging oppression becomes comforting. In a twisted and deeply disturbing turn the quest for peace finds comfort in the silence of unacknowledged oppression and abuse. The oppressors of course know this and continue unopposed.

Therefore, life operates superficially at the level of practical, transactional, economic and formal, an arms length family who once embraced but now do not even speak or acknowledge one another for prolonged periods. Yet, they say they believe in God. The Merciful and Compassionate. However, show none to those whom they oppress.

Conversations with meaningful warmth become fewer and fewer. Where there happens to be conversation it is at times like two people standing on opposite sides of a railway crossing, waiting for the barrier to lift while a train hurtles past between them. Even lip reading is impossible let alone hearing the other. There is only the faint sound of one’s voice. It is in such interactions people say, “well I told you, why didn’t you listen?” How can anyone hear anything while a train of emotions, anger and pain passes between two people?

What is the seat of this division? From where does the power and conviction to leave things unresolved and unreconciled derive its efficacy in the mind of the oppressor?

To attempt an answer we add one more ingredient, finality.

The idea of “finality” is a source of power that sustains resistance to spiritual and humanist values of reconciliation, peace and harmony.

Finality in two expressions, lesser and higher.

The lesser finality may arise from a past wrong suffered by the oppressor and its interpretation forever remains a closed book and final in the mind of the oppressor. There can be no shadow of doubt they are incorrect in their opinions about the deep feeling of offence they carry within themselves. The aforementioned wrong may have happened years ago, but the intensity is as if it happened yesterday.

Therefore, situations are manipulated to create conditions where everyday people are portrayed negatively in the eyes of others. The purpose being to shame their victims, to weaken them, to humiliate them, to demean them in their own eyes. It is punishment. It is horrific and the perpetrator knows it and perversely takes comfort in it.

Any attempt to commence a reinterpretation of the wrong suffered or to forgive and reconcile is fiercely defended against. It cannot be permitted. Something that was lurking in the psyche of the oppressor has broken through finding its release over the threshold of the door of the wrong suffered. It will not retreat willingly. While previously, from behind the curtain, it controlled one personality, it’s host, it now controls several personalities. It’s children, it’s marriage life partner, in-laws, relatives and siblings.

To the wider world of work and neighbours they will be the most understanding, vulnerable, caring and innocent person. To the inner circle of personalities under its influence it will shower love and affection to one through excessive displays and simultaneously exclude another. It is capable of all the emotions and incapable of being happy with the simple things of life. Its pleasure is the control of others. Yet, this is only a caricature of the lower finality.

The higher finality is far more deeply lodged and rests on a strange sense of taking refuge in the argument of the “Final Judge”. Namely, God. For an un-spiritual family God is indeed everywhere but the idea is inverted where omnipresence of the Supreme is for their self justification.

This is the manipulative oppressor-victimhood persona’s ultimate self justification for not engaging in peaceful reconciliation of any kind in this mortal life. Even though they believe in a life after this life that is without body they act as if they have no soul. They have lost the idea that they are a soul and thus become soulless like.

Yet they remain confident in the self justification that God is on their side giving license to all kinds of destructive behaviours. It is an illness. A spiritual illness.

It is a way of thinking and being that is sheer escapism neglecting as it does so easily, without a hint of irony, that the “Final Judge”, in whom they seem to take refuge psychologically, is also Compassionate, Merciful, Loving and yet these attributes are passed over and only judgement is held tightly. This is perhaps because the whole edifice of an un-spiritual family rests on judgement and condemnation. They say “Final Judge” they mean “condemnation” for others. They fail to remember that the judgement may well be kind and merciful and loving.

The pull of self justification from this higher finality is so great it will usurp the very spiritual values one claims to admire. Religious texts and extracts are sought out to justify, along with seeking out religious scholars, their mode of being as being religiously valid, even otherworldly valid. It is a spiritual quest in the absence of light. It is the polar opposite of enlightened spiritual quest. It is maximum difference.

As the late Professor Syed Hasan Askari spoke in 1995, “according to Plotinus opposition is maximum difference. So it is in the creative power of the soul to create in the human mind maximum differences of opinion and belief. We are not dwarfed by opposition and conflict.”

By Musa Askari

* (A profound spiritual life can independently thrive despite the absence of harmony)

See also There Are Only Four Communities

“What have you not asked for?”

“What have you not asked for?

“I did not ask to be born,” he said. “I did not ask for my eyes. I did not ask for my face. I did not ask for my ears. I did not ask for my hands. I did not ask for my feet. I did not ask for anything that one may call a Body. I did not ask for I did not even know what even a body was. I did not ask for my Parents. I did not ask for my Family. I asked for none of these things for I had no idea of what they were. I did not ask for companionship. I did not ask for friendship. I did not ask for food to eat, for shelter nor for warmth. I asked for none of these things for I knew not what they were. I was in no lack or want of any such thing.”

“Who are you to not ask or need for such things?”

“All I know, all I remember, all I recollect, and know to be true, the one certain thing, that I am a soul. Yet I did not even ask to be a soul.”

“I did not even ask for my name. All these, given not by myself to myself. Given unknown and unbidden by the Giver of All. For what purpose, for what reason unknown to me and I shudder to ask. That I cannot ask.”

“If all such have been given and given in abundance with no memory of my calling for them, who is the Giver that gives as such? Pray tell so that I may give thanks and thanks in perpetuity. All I ask is to whom I offer this thanks. For thanks and much more is due. That is the only thing I can ask. To know where the offering of gratitude is to be placed.”

“But first I must pay attention to this Body ahead of that offering. Where is the place for wadhu (ablution)?”

Musa Askari

Musa Askari speech – Afghanistan Demonstration. Newcastle, U.K.

22nd August 2021

Thank you to @Laura_VC_Lee of Women’s Banner Group & @SocialistTank & to @NEAgainstR for inviting me to say a few words at Today’s Newcastle Demonstration for Afghanistan

“If you believe in a peaceful world you believe in giving refuge.”

Musa Askari

When Co-operation is Illusion

You behave as if there is nothing in this world to learn from. That all your materialistic theories from economy to climate to the universe and all your religious theologies from here to hereafter and beyond are enough.”

I have conquered many lands, east and west,” he said. “I have usurped many Peoples and enslaved their bodies and later enslaved their minds for generations. What has the conquered to teach the conquerer? I have sold them co-operation laced with only a drop of unity as the tool by which to better themselves knowing full well it is a fallacy. While gifting them the illusion of co-operation I have left intact their collective identity self interest all times. After all the conquerer needs an ally from among the conquered.” he retorted.

There was a long pause.

“Why do you cry?” asked the so-called conquerer.

“For you.” He replied.

“For me?” laughed the conquerer.

He looked at the conquerer deeply. Through him and said,

“No. I am not addressing you here.
I am addressing and crying for your nobler and loftier Self everywhere. Whom you do not even know. Your very Soul. Whose enlightenment and liberation in which you have a hand. Though not totally but nevertheless significant. As like an oar has a “hand” in the movement of a boat. Yet you go in circles with only the oar of your self-interest. Even a Conquerer cannot escape karma, kismet. It too is a “subject.” Despite all your conquering of the world of body you have not even begun to conquer your greatest height. Your self. Your soul.”

“How do you know? asked the conquerer.

“Because all your energy and time is expended away from you. Everything you do is in the outer. Even in your sleep you scheme. When you awake it is illusory. You are still asleep. Sleep walking through life.”

There was a long pause.

“Why do you cry?” he asked the conquerer.

That’s one of the ways to open the inner door. Solitary Silence. You don’t co-operate with silence. You don’t negotiate with it.

Musa Askari

Rejoice for the coming of Daylight

Set aside the missionaries & proselytisers of collective hypnosis. Of division & enmity. They have no good news for the Soul. To keep us enraged & unstable against the quest for Justice is their act. The choices become clearer by the day & yet we travel by a starless night. Night is inner Freedom, Solitude & Remembrance. Daylight is outer Freedom, Companionships & Remembrance. Justice, however, blind as it may be, recognises no boundary of Night & Day. Daylight is Consciousness unmasked. It is in Daylight the hypnotists have no influence. Rejoice for the coming of Daylight. Blessings to the Soul of Rumi from a grateful dervish.

Musa Askari

As soon as you talk of the soul you talk of the whole of Humanity

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