Why Pray?

Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought! – Rumi

I think we pray to nurture the soul.

The soul?

It is something inherently within us but too difficult to see.

It is you that wants to use you as a tool to produce good and virtues.

When I established a routine for prayers.

I feel mysteriously richer.

I feel vulnerable but slightly wiser. Wiser because my choices were better.

And I know when I astray.

The cycle goes:

A nurtured soul is reflected by the good life.

The good life is the result of seeing the good in life.

And to see the good in life is to nurture the soul.

That’s why we pray.

My forever songs

I rarely listen to new songs. These are the soundtrack of my life that is stuck with me. I listened to these songs between 2004 – 2010. I’m sure there are more dearly songs that I haven’t remembered. Thanks, Spotify you are truly remarkable.

I didn’t include Indonesians songs here, maybe I’ll make one in the future.

  1. Deckchairs and Cigarettes – The Thrills
  2. Big Sur – The Thrills
  3. Ce matin-la – Air
  4. Special – Mew
  5. My Heart Won’t Break – Club 8
  6. Sleep Away Your Troubles – The Softies
  7. The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles
  8. Intergalactic – Beastie Boys
  9. I Need a Girl Pt. 2 – Diddy, Ginuwine, Loon, Mario Winans
  10. When You Believe – Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey
  11. La ritournelle – Sebastien Tellier
  12. A Box Full of Sharp Objects – The Used
  13. In This Diary – The Ataris
  14. Pulmonary Archery – Alexisonfire
  15. Take You On A Cruise – Interpol
  16. C’mere – Interpol
  17. Mosque of Love – The Adams
  18. Transatlanticism – Death Cab for Cutie
  19. Banquet – Bloc Party
  20. Reptilia – The Strokes
  21. The Take Over, The Breaks Over – Fall Out Boy
  22. U Got It Bad – Usher
  23. 6, 8, 12 – Brian McKnight
  24. 21 Questions – 50 Cent, Nate Dogg
  25. A Milli – Lil Wayne
  26. The Boy Is Mine – Brandy, Monica
  27. Too Young – Phoenix
  28. Burning – The Whitest Boy Alive
  29. Singing Softly To Me – Kings of Convenience
  30. Forgot About Dre – Dr. Dre, Eminem

Some songs I recently listened and liked:

  1. Magnolia – Young & Sick
  2. Feel Alright – Poolside
  3. Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  4. Song Seven – Interpol

Listen to the playlist on Spotify.

How to live many lives, in one life.

1400 years ago, somewhere in the middle east, a guy about 40 was pissed with the barbaric people around him. He couldn’t take it anymore and retreat to a cave. In it, he prayed to a higher power asking for help. Strangely, God did come to him. But, God did not come to equip him with X-Men superpowers. Instead, with a simple order: read.

The guy is Muhammad. The first verse revealed is an order to read, without an object. It says “Read! in the name of your Lord who created.” Read what? Anything. Read what is written and what is not. Read people, situations, cues. Read before you talk, read before you click.

Reading will give you many lives. As your ideas and imagination meet with others’. This is similar to a person sitting between two mirrors. He did not see only one picture of himself, not only two but countless. That’s what reading does to you. When you eat, you can only fulfil one stomach. Whatever you dress, you could only cover one body. Wherever you travel, you can only be in one place at a time. But when you read, you associate various ideas, tastes, and imagination.

You live many lives.

A lesson from our daughter

My wife and I were in the living room when our baby took one of her dirty shoes and approached us back. What another mess she would make, I thought, well, my wife would feel the same too. 🙂 It surprised both of us when she suddenly grabbed tissues and cleaned her shoes.

Yesterday morning. Our daughter woke up and started coughing. It continued until she let the slime out of her mouth onto the floor. I took her to the toilet in case she would retch more. Our baby took the rolling tissues beside our toilet seat, walked outside to wipe her slime on the floor.

That moment amazed me like no other.

She is not even two and doesn’t understand responsibility. And I was there to help her, but she did it anyway. She saw a problem and fixed it. That simple.

I thought, when we take action on our problems, we improve. When we don’t act on the problem we see, we miss the opportunities to become better. Worse, when we don’t do anything about our problems, in time, it won’t be a problem anymore.

Years will pass without you getting better.

See a problem. Fix it. See a problem. Fix it.

Thanks, baby, another lesson for me.

Your biggest contribution

There is a part of God, the perfect one, in each of our soul.

Developing that part is what matter the most to me. It means improving myself towards perfection. Sounds too egocentric. However, my best self is the maximum contribution I can give to my family, organization, and the world.

If “I” change, the world will change. Thus, the world can be changed only by me, and no one else will change it for me. When a person improves, a small part of society also improves.


Declare your faith first

The first pillar of Islam is “Shahada” which means a declaration of faith or bearing witness to the faith.

Bearing witness is to show that something exists or is true.

This should be the first step in whatever we want to achieve.

Perhaps it is aligned with the famous Napoleon Hill’s quote: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

But how on earth we can achieve anything by only believing?

If you declare your faith or your dream, you eliminate unnecessary things. It gives you a target and shows you the path to your dreams. In the journey, failures will show you the way by giving you the wrong directions. Nothing is wasted.

Declare your destination definitively, believe it will exist. Keep it on your head at all time. Watch how eventually you will see the clear path to your dreams.

Respond with kindness, why?

You probably have heard this million times: You should not repay evil with evil. You should do kindness even to those who wronged you.

Our parents, teachers and religions taught us this.

But exactly why?

This excerpt from Tolstoy’s A Calendar of Wisdom made sense:

When people wanted to kill a bear in the ancient times, they hung a heavy log over a bowl of honey. The bear would push the log away in order to eat the honey. The log would swing back and hit the bear. The bear would become irritated and push the log even harder, and it would return and hit him harder in return. This would continue until the log killed the bear. People behave in the same way when they return evil for the evil they receive from other people. Can’t people be wiser than bears?


The Islamic Original Sin

There are differences in the story of the “fall of man” or the “original sin” in the Islamic view. These are three I learned:

God had decided to send humans to lead the world before God created Adam and Eve

Before Adam was created, God had delivered his plan to the angels that he would create beings (humans) to become caliphs or leader on earth. Therefore, whether or not he tasted the fruit of the forbidden tree, in the end, he would definitely be ordered to leave heaven and come to earth to become its leader. The Quran does not use the word “expelled from heaven”. Because God knew it beforehand?

It did not start with Eve

Tempted by Satan or the serpent’s tricks, Adam and Eve tasted the fruit of the forbidden tree. Time and time again, The Quran emphasised that the devil’s seduction was on Adam and his partner, and they both tasted it. This means that mistakes are made by both of them. It is wrong to consider women as the leading cause of that original sin.

We did not inherit Adam’s sins

The Quran informs that Adam expressed remorse to God, and God accepted Adam and Eve’s repentance. That implies God’s will to forgive their mistakes, and God accepts their requests by removing their sins. This means that Adam and Eve’s sins have been forgiven by God. Thus Islam does not know the sin inherited from Adam’s. Not only because God has forgiven that sin, but also because in principle, God affirms that someone will not bear the sins committed by others, whoever that person is (Qur’an 53:38). This is one of the very fundamental differences between Islamic views and Christian views.

The Ultimate Question

You can ask: if from the beginning, God wants humans (Adam and Eve) to be on earth, then why Adam had to stop-over in heaven? One of the answers is to give them lessons about the tasks they will carry on earth, the challenges, and minimum targets they should achieve. On earth, they should strive to create a heaven-like situation like the availability of food, clothing, and shelter. Also, to establish security and peace. That heavenly experience encouraged them to fight their way back there.
Furthermore, it teaches that we shared the same enemy that is the devil. Following the devil’s temptation will have a negative impact. Thus human must be vigilant of the seduction of the devil while on this earth.

The most powerful outcomes are delayed

The most powerful outcomes are delayed.

The things you do now, won’t make differences now. But it does not go to waste either.

It’s like “I’ve been running every day for a month, so why can’t I see any changes in my body?”

James Clear calls it the Plateau of Latent PotentialUsually, that’s the reason why people quit. If only they could endure a bit longer.

A conversation between a master and his disciple from Anthony De Mello’s One Minute Wisdom:

Disciple: “Is there anything I can do to make myself Enlightened?”

Master: “As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.”

Disciple: “Then of what use are the spiritual exercises, you prescribe?”

Master: “To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise.”

Prepare yourself — small habit matters. These small actions will accumulate and compound. It’s how you make the big jump. Be patient.

Outsiders will call it an overnight success.

Me too. I’m still this fucking weak person who choose the path with least resistance. I want comfort. But comfort won’t do me any good.

Dream big then struggle. Don’t seek happiness, comfort, joy, or other positive shits because you won’t get it.

I’m not there yet. But, I’m here for the fight.