Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The humbling pale blue dot

Carl Sagan, the astronomer; took a picture of the planet earth from Voyager 1 in 1990, 6 BILLION kilometers from earth. Due to the effect of polarisation, the planet Earth appeared as a pale blue dot, a mere 0.12 pixel in size against the vastness of space.

He later reflected in his book "Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space."

"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

As I looked down the cabin window, I remembered Sagan's writing. How humbling it was to see the world from a far. From where I was sitting, I saw lands that people would kill for, siblings not talking to each other for, politicians and businessmen alike would contemplate on... no bigger in size than a common 5 cents coin. The mighty huge jungle, home for thousands of various species, much too small until they looked nothing more than tiny mosses on the sides of an undisturbed rock by the river. Proud sky scrapers and modern industrial buildings were nothing more than tiny cubes that give out reflections under the striking afternoon sun. And those majestic rivers, rivers that literally formed civilisations, rivers that are so great and important to the extend that they formed natural borders between two states, between two countries and between two religious groups even, looked nothing more than a long winding thread of pale blue against the brown-green canvas of the land we called Earth.  

And of all these tiny little things that shaped up the surface of the Earth, somewhere not too far from where I was looking down at, much too small and much too tiny to compare to the rivers and the jungles and the lands that were visible to my naked eyes at that time, lies all the things I called my own... things that made up "my world."

My world is a place where there is a tiny speck of white I called my home. In that tiny white speck, I would find all the people that I love. People that matter to me, people that defined who I am. Not far from that tiny white speck is my office, the place I have strived so hard for to be a good employee, more often than not, this had been my second home, if not my first... and suddenly, I cried. my life had been spent loving all these tiny things. They were too small to even be seen from where I was at. I couldn't even begin to imagine how small and insignificant "my world" would be for someone looking down on Earth from the seventh heaven. 

The experience humbled me. All these while I thought I had been working very hard, maximising on quality and high quantity work time, never mind sacrificing on my ibadahs, my daily duas, my daily zikr..it was all OK (or so I thought)  because I was making a mark on this world..or at least trying to make a mark. But sadly, I forgot on my own insignificance. Against this world, I am nothing...against the vast space, even the Earth is nothing. And truthfully, against the eternity of the hereafter, this life is much too short to be spent worrying on tiny earth's matter. 

Masha Allah, thank you for the great reminder.
So I quickly said my istighfar..Astaghfirullahil'azim...

From now on, Ya Rabb, help me remember my actual responsibility. To be YOUR good servant despite hopefully being good in everything else too, InsyaAllah. Remind me Ya Allah, on my place on this world, whatever I do, no matter how great and important I thought they might be, they are insignificant if they are not done for YOU ya Rabb. Help me and remind me constantly because my hope is nothing more than to be accepted by YOU. To have YOUR redha.

Ameen, InsyaAllah.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

lowest point

March 2012. 
Everything has been progressing well as far as my research is concerned. But I am having the hardest time coping with one thing. The fact that everyone else in my family are going for umrah this month. Don't get me wrong. I am the happiest person in the world when I know that my mom, step dad, brother, sister, uncle, aunty, their 5 children, my dad, stepmom, nana and anifah are going. That means they are being invited to Baitullah. But I am especially sad because Allah has not given me any invitation what so ever yet. And I am 30 this year. 30 years of no invitation. How does that sounds to you? 

There is no doubt that i have been busy. 
If I was not studying medicine, I was working as a doctor. If I was not working, I was studying for my master and now PhD. But all these business are worldly. Nothing fantastically Islamic about them. If i was busy studying Al- Quran sunnah, or treating sick children in somalia or Palestine, I wouldn't feel as guilty. If I have been not sleeping because I was trying to memorize the Quran, or I was burning the midnight oil performing solahs, I wouldn't feel this guilty and depress. The fact that all that I am doing now is W O R L D L Y, for my personal gain...made me feel sick with myself. May be this is why Allah invites everyone else but me. Because I have been disgustingly greedy, sacrificing all I have, my health even... To gain worldly success. And despite all that, I am still far from being successful either. 

So How could these do not make me want to cry? 

Constantly I ask myself, what am I doing here when I really want to be somewhere else, doing something meaningful for Islam, for Allah instead?
All that I could do is try. To try to make "this".... Whatever this thing is that I am doing, to be beneficial for Islam. Otherwise, I don't think my life would have any meaning. How am I going to answer in front of Allah, in front of everyone that have ever lived on the day of judgement... to tell HIM, Allah the almighty, that I have done nothing for Islam? That all the years that were given to me to live had been wasted? How? 

Please tell me how because think I am going to crumble...now.


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