The Empty Vessel

We calling ourselves a 100% Muslim nation is a ‘joke’ that most Maldivians don’t get. That being said, those who still believe in Islam, its tenets and the fact that it is to Allah whom we return when our short & brief journey on this Earth ends; they not practicing the religion they ‘believe’ in is the ‘joke’ that I don’t get.

This post is not intended to preach, nor does it intend to criticize anyone. It just aims to explain my bafflement with a generation that refuses to bow down to their Creator given that they do indeed believe Him to be their one and only God.

I meet a lot of people in my work life as well as my forays into the realms of the world of social networking. And no, I am not at all surprised by those who have turned to atheism and elsewhere in their attempts to apply logic, philosophy and every man-made subject matter onto the one thing that cannot be explained through any of that i.e. faith.

Faith is defined in either one of the following ways. “A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny.” OR “Complete confidence in a person or plan etc” OR “An institution to express belief in a divine power.” OR “Loyalty or allegiance to a cause or a person.” I see a commonality in all of the above definitions. There is the aspect of belief, placing trust, alleging loyalty and having the confidence that something or someone won’t let you down. Trying to apply logic to faith is as good as trying to explain the hows and whys of falling in love, the emotion that even the most cynical of us have succumbed to once in our lifetime.

So that brings me to the bunch who actually believe in the faith they place in God and always quote one aspect of the religion they so firmly believe in when it comes to criticizing the other person for their behavior. The funny thing when it comes to them is the fact that these are the very people who don’t see much point in bending down to their God and Creator 5 times a day, the very people who take the one thing that differentiates us Muslims from the rest of the populace who follow a religion so lightly that they don’t even remember half the time that they are supposed to pray 5 times a day.

Umar ibn al-Khattab (RAA) reported that a man asked the Prophet (SAW):  “Messenger of Allah, what action is dearest to Allah Most High?” The Prophet (SAW) replied: “Prayer at its proper time. The one who does not pray has no religion. Prayer is the main pillar of the religion (of Islam).” (Baihaqi). This Hadith alone bears witness to the importance the Prophet Muhammad PBUH placed on the 5 daily prayers we Maldivians of the Muslim faith take so lightly.

I remember vividly a part of the lecture notes in the subject Islam when I was doing my A’Levels back in 2001. There is this bit which tries to explain the concept of a person who doesn’t pray 5 times daily being like an empty vessel that is aimless and has no real beacon of hope that guides them through the murky waters of life. At that time I never pondered overly much about it. But older and perhaps a tad wiser 11 years on, I now know exactly what the phrase was intended to express. It perfectly explains so many of my friends and acquaintances. Restless, seeking all the while something to guide their way, trying to place the blame of the calamities or the difficulties in life that befall them on anything and everything but themselves for not being strong enough to stick to what a true Muslim who believes should never stray from – the 5 daily prayers that brings one closer to Allah and lets us seek from Him the contentment that we all want and hardly find in this life.

The power of prayer is a miraculous one as I have experienced time and yet again. Prayer has been the one source of contentment and peace in my life. I experienced my own little ‘miracle’ as I love to call it the one time in my life I despaired enough to understand the true meaning of being utterly and severely alone. And prayer, yes, prayer was the one thing that saved me from the deep abysmal despair I would have found myself in otherwise.

At this time and age, when a man who practices his faith, especially if it were to be Islam gets ridiculed and labeled as an extremist, it is ‘easy’ to lose one’s way from the path of the righteous, particularly easy in our case because of the lack of proper foundation knowledge we have received when it comes to Islam. I would always forever be grateful for my father for instilling a love for the religion and teaching his three daughters the essentials of Islam and trying his best to educate us and show us the right way when we were young. And even now, he is the source I turn to when confusion hits me, when people with varying ideologies bombard my thinking process from time to time and it gets all murky. I know that most of us are not lucky enough to have a father like him, but seeking out Allah’s forgiveness, his bounty and eternal love is something all believers can, must and should try for. For after all, we were placed on this Earth for one thing and one thing alone. And that is to worship Him, to bow down to Him and seek from Him in all our affairs as we walk the path of life.

I try to refrain from being “preachy” when it comes to my friends who share with me their problems in life. But if you ask any of them, the one thing I’d always remind them of is to pray and seek Allah’s help when they lose their way. Whether it be heartbreak, problems with the family, discontentment with life in general, there is no other being that can provide for His creations as He does, and yes, that is why I would always say, if you are a believer, pray, seek and ask from Allah. Always remember, it is to Him that we would all return to when our life here ends; for death is the one common destination that all living things share in this life.

Poem: Say Goodbye…

In the flickering light of the waning candle
I sit and remember all the stolen moments we would never have …

In the darkest hours of the night as the rest of the world sleeps
I sit and yearn for a future we’ll never have …

In the deepest, darkest corners of my heart
I berate the fates for sending you my way when it was too late …

At the very next breath I let myself wonder
What it’d be like, if the rest of my life were to happen with you by my side …

But as the rising sun chases away the lingering shadows
Reality pokes in, bringing with it
the bitter flavor of the tears unshed,
the terrifying want of unspoken longing
& a love that defies all logic & will go unfulfilled in this lifetime.

Dedicated to everyone who has loved & lost, because for one reason or the other, it was never meant to happen in this lifetime.