Imagine: you have just been told that you only have a few months to live.
How would you go about picking up the pieces of your life? How would you plan out your remaining days, once the initial shock wanes a bit, (if at all)? What would you prioritize as utmost important and what activity would you demote to the ‘utterly useless’ category?
Randy Pausch, 45, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, was told just that. He had a wife and three small children.
Randy’s compelling book The Last Lecture, elucidates how he utilized his ‘crucial bike rides’ to dictate a book which serves as an inspiration and reminder for those who haven’t been issued immediate death notices.
Mr. Salman Asif Siddiqui has reviewed this gripping narrative, forming part of this issue’s Books for All section.
It is a perfect reminder for us – ones lost in the enchanting dazzles of this world.
The constant remembrance of Allah, the feeling of His all-permeating presence, the internal compass that keeps telling one that He is watching, is a true gift for the seeker of the Path. To achieve this prize, one need not necessarily be an aalim (scholar) or an aabid
(avid worshipper). In fact, even the uninitiated can surpass the intellectual on this course.
In one of his recent discourses, Mufti Taqi Usmani SB describes the case of their domestic help – an elderly lady with no formal education (religious or otherwise), no grooming and no tutoring. He says that the words of Shukar and Hamd of Allah are said to be constantly and unabatedly reverberating on her lips….what an enviable trait; not easily achieved even by those who are consciously working towards this end!
In Ma’ariful Quran, there is an analogy that explains a kind of haughtiness and ‘narrow-mindedness’ that comes with the ascent of man on the ladder of ‘worldly’ success, be it in terms of pure academic / scholarly achievements or in terms of material gain. The
purpose of the simile is to explain what the Qur’an really means by the term UlulAlbab…..does it refer to scientists who break new grounds in medical and physical sciences? Are they the astronauts who conquer new frontiers in outer space? Does it mean
the philosophers and thinkers who attempt to help people navigate through life? Or is it those who apply their minds, their intellect in recognizing the signs of Allah spread out around us?
So the analogy narrates that a man who lives in a jungle arrives at a railway station for the first time. He looks at the tiny red and green signals dictating the arrival and departure of a massive means of transportation and assumes the lights to be the “do-all / know-all” of this amazing system. When he expresses his awe, he is rebuked: “It is not the lights, stupid. It is
actually the train driver who runs the show!”
But this observer is cut short as well: “It’s not really the train driver who is behind this great feat of engineering. The main catalyst is the powerful engine of the train!” Just then, a scientist quips in: “How do you suppose the engine runs? It is energy that is actually running the train!”
But where did its energy come from? Logic, science and philosophy sigh with weariness…
The Prophets were sent to untwine this entangled thread and lead man to the Most Beneficent One – the Creator of air, wind, earth, water and all energy sources. The ululAlbab are thus those who gain Ma’arifa, recognition, of their Lord; and not those scientists,
philosophers and academics who grapple in the dark when their intellect leads them to exciting discoveries, but not to their very Creator.
This discussion leads us to our Cover Story, where the late Professor Syed Ali Ashraf begins
By Islamic education I mean that type of education which trains the sensibility of pupils in such a manner that in their attitude to life, in their actions and decisions and in their approach to all kinds of knowledge they are governed by the spiritual and deeply felt ethical values that Islam teaches them.
We are sure, inshAllah, that you would enjoy reading this pertinent piece, especially in the trying environment of today.
In the end, let us all supplicate:
O Allah! Safeguard me for the month of Ramadan, and safeguard the month of Ramadan for me and accept it from me.
Do please remember The Intellect’s team in your special Ramadan du’as.