To My Unborn Children

In the name of Allah,

The Prophet,

And the Holy Progeny

To my unborn children,

In the case of an early death, which I’ve always suspected, what I intended to teach you by action must instead be taught by words.

I wish to inform you of all that has made me who I am and what I am; a collection of thoughts and convictions on topics that I believe are most important. In addition to that, a collection of wisdom from the man who taught me how to be a man, Imam Ali.

I love you no matter what and please forgive my shortcomings.

On God

There is a grand design to this universe.

One that is far greater than our misleading perceptions of it and far greater than our intelligent constructions on life and how to live it. How you will find Him, how your journey towards the divine will begin and where it will take you, are questions I can’t answer but know one thing: God is closer to you than your jugular.

I refuse to believe in coincidence or spontaneous combustions without a purpose. Bangs, bams and booms that make up everything in this magical act yet there’s no grand wizard?! At the center of all chaos there is absolute order; everything happens for a reason and every design has a designer. We’re just not smart enough to quantify the unquantifiable, we focus too much at the chaos of the orchestra that we lose sight of the conductor’s mastery.

“Whoever leaves his matter to God, He reveals it.”

Don’t worry too much about being smart at first. Both God and the Devil are in the detail so you’ve got to be careful which trail of crumbs you follow, the one that goes to Valhalla or the one that goes to Necropolis.

There’s no corridor in between, no waiting room, no checkpoint and no intra-travel resting. The journey is tough, the paths are elusive and the spectrum between salvation and damnation is often tighter than a needle’s eye. When you get lost in the dark, look for the light within.

Just like the Count of Monte Cristo, at your most desperate, God will give you justice.

It took me a death of a loved one before I saw Him. After that, it’s a collection of existential crises that eventually acted as catalysts of faith renewal. I don’t know how your lives will be but when your time comes, it comes. How you react to it, what you choose, will determine your destiny. And your destiny is your own.

“In everything I see, I see God before it, I see God in it and I see God after it.”

Beware of the zealous and the godless; both will be so eager to give you a free one way ticket to oblivion.

Those who have confused their wills with His will persecute you, condemn you, and oppress you in hopes that you’ll crack to their whip. When my knees bend at the whipping post and I’m tortured into kneeling, it’s the love of God that drives me into rising, not my anger.

Know that faith is essentially love and the price of love is sacrifice. Self-sacrifice.

Evil can and most likely will break your back, sully your mind and wound your spirit. All is repairable and as long as the doors of mercy are open, you will be forgiven. Your soul, on the other hand, is trickier. There are no prosthetics for amputated souls, no holy water to wash it clean.

Believe me, there is no pleasant purging for the soul. Unlike material filth, what’s inside can only be cleansed by fire. If you’re not strong enough to be a Phoenix, surely the vultures will get you.

“The loss of eyesight is better than the loss of insight.”

Those who only believe in human intelligence and self-congratulating constructions will label you a Puritan, dub you as primitive and ostracize you for your convictions. Know that science cannot be separated from religion and all knowledge is beneficial to the growth of your faith. The prophets and the knowledgeable are the closest creations to God.

Philosophizing on truth and reality without the recognition of God’s presence is like loading a 12-gauge shotgun with confetti; what you shoot might be powerful but it’s essentially colorful bullshit. These vainglorious rationalizations are simply excuses for humans to live however they intend to. It’s a guilt-free wagon to the lands of amorality.

“Do not be a slave to others when God has created you free.”

Believe me, do not fear the lonesome path of righteousness. One friend made on that path is strong and loyal enough to tear down an army of a thousand enemies.

Avoid blind faith. Spend time mastering His word and never believe in anything that is unquestionable and impractical. You will find in studying faith that diligence and conviction will always defeat delusion and confusion.

Reject. Be courageous enough to fight delusion and intelligent enough to detect falsehood. Verily, to praise falsehood is to oppress the truth.

Institutions, ideas, people, actions, words, your father…any fallible entity should not be above ridicule and investigation. Never allow yourself to be below rejecting anything that you believe is wrong. However, be wary of the manner that you choose to reject with; do not allow your heart to be consumed by unnecessary hatred. Being a wolf among sheep is no excuse to be a devouring beast but it is the responsibility to be a devoted shepherd.

“Learn your religion, do not inherit it.”

Rid yourself of God’s deceitful enemies and align your heart to His faithful companions. These two creatures are ironically interchangeable; you’ll sometimes find the godly lurking in the shadows and the ungodly basking in the light. In both cases, don’t think for a second that any friend is incapable of betrayal nor any enemy incapable of having a change of heart.

Remember, triumph and fortune do not come by Him being on your side but by you being on His. Submit to God, not to man.

“In battle, I do not run after the enemy nor do I run away from the enemy.”

On Life

Life is two days: a day for you and a day against you.

On days for you, be thankful and prepare for the woes of tomorrow. On days against you, be patient and prepare for the relief of tomorrow.

It is best to be like running water. Constant in its purifying currents, strong in its shaping of mountains and fluid in its maintenance of essence in any confinement. Besides, being my children, you’ll need a strong cooling agent to extinguish the angry embers in your hearts.

There will be times when smiling may seem impossible. Dark times will come inevitably and it will seem like there are no horizons left for the sun to set on. Loops of sorrow and phases of confused angst are normal; just as life has made you smile, it will also make you cry.

Know that as long as there is air in your lungs then there is a fighting chance. Hope and grit are the wings of survival; on one wing hope flutters waves of patience and on the other, grit flutters waves of persistence. Wings that will turn leaps of faith into flights of fervor.

“A believer is not a believer if the light of hope does not exist in his heart.”

Be sober. Reveling in delusion and allowing yourself to be inebriated by the carny of life will only deescalate your humanity. The self-indulging and pleasure-seeking monks of saturnalia masquerading as jubilant and liberated individuals will turn you into a juvenile and loathsome whore of Babylon. The ‘spirits’ will kill your spirit for all forms of foolery are but bread and circuses aimed at deflecting your vision from what’s important until you’re blind, deaf and dumb.

“The most helpless of people is he who is able to reform himself yet does not.”

Be fearless. It is better to die free than to live a slave and it is better to tell a horrible truth than a sweet lie. Honesty is of courage and lying is of cowardice. You will witness sooner than later that society will force itself on you by tapping into your fears. Primordial fear, fear of the unknown, is an unrivaled weakness and if you’re not being attacked externally, your mind will fabricate fear internally.

“Be soft without being weak, be strong without being violent.”

Traumatic moments and the development of phobias aren’t too necessary to understand that. All you need is a credit card.

Meditate, contemplate and pray. Know yourself and be at peace with yourself.

Be alive. Choose a craft and an art, then master both. There is little practicality in believing all your dreams will come true but there is no fulfillment in a mundane life slaving to the machine. Whatever you become, make sure it is honorable, sustainable and serving of a higher purpose.

Your passions should not be sidelined by anyone’s shortsightedness. Practice, practice, practice…do that until you get to Carnegie Hall and then practice some more until the hall is named after you.

Hard work beats talent any day of the week. A slothful life will kill you slowly and sloth is an especially deadly sin.

“A man’s measure is his will.”

On Identity

We are warriors of God and we are servants of the people. All people.

You will find a multitude of selves in your being as I have in mine. The imminence of a continually hybridizing self will surely be more of a prevalent phenomenon in your time. Lest you, with all the intelligent potential, be confined to a one dimensional, dull and self-defeating existence.

“Do not fret, every hardship will pass away.”

Our ultimate identity lies in the Prophet and his Holy Progeny, peace be upon them all. That is a kingdom of honor and valor bestowed upon us with a throne not so easy to sit on and a crown heavier on the head than any other. We have a duty to be self-perfecting in as many venues as possible. Be a warrior, a caregiver, a friend, a professor, a leader, a listener…you are an assembly of selves, do not for a nanosecond believe you cannot be more than one thing.

Especially when those roles seem contradictive. Why can’t a scholar be a soldier?

The pen is often mightier than the sword, true, but try shielding yourself with a book when an axe is heading your way. Being a scientist and a man of God doesn’t mean those two selves nullify one another. Don’t allow one side to supplant the other, supplements exist for a reason; you have to learn how to deal with this world regardless of how it deals with you, no matter what you’re comfortable with. Sticking to a comfort zone is like choosing to drown in a pit of fluffy feathers, it looks cute but it’s still drowning.

“The best revenge is to improve yourself.”

Being raised by the West and the Middle East simultaneously has been both blessing and burden. Truly bittersweet and at times strictly bitter or strictly sweet.

The West insanely adores and respects individuality through allowing and encouraging a person to apply their Manifest Destiny. The pursuit of knowledge and wealth reigns supreme where any peasant is promised kingship if they work hard enough for it. The West is also deluded.

In the armory of the West, I’ve had the privilege of bearing three double-edged swords: democracy, capitalism and secularism. These swords, these ideas, are double-edged because from one blade comes a wondrous understanding to life and on the other blade comes a woeful underrating of life.

Democracy, ideally, gives voice to the voiceless. Capitalism, ideally, gives wealth to the poor. Secularism, ideally, eliminates the often toxic grip of religion on society.

All idealistic. All idiotic.

What the West doesn’t understand and what I hope you do is that it’s just as infested with socially corrupting agents as any other part of the world. The Middle East has its three swords as well: tribalism, sectarianism and false arrogance.

Tribalism, unfortunately, is favoring lineage and clan over everything. Sectarianism, unfortunately, is favoring your faith’s institutions over everything. False arrogance, unfortunately, is the belief that tribalism, sectarianism and extreme non-secularism makes us glorious.

All unfortunate. All undeniable.

Both regions believe their narrative is the supreme identity of mankind. The West is infected with, what I call, Neo-Hellenism; the Romans worshiped Greece and therefore adopted its mentalities whereas the West worships Rome and it’s just as decadent now as it was then.

The Middle East, on the other hand, is infected with its own ideological diseases. Instead of treating this old and frail man by his own medicinal standards, the West offers him a fat syringe of White Man’s Burden. It’s like treating a cancer patient with grade-A heroin. I hope in your lifetime, you’ll be the ones that revive this gruesomely old man into the gloriously youthful one. It pains me miserably so to see how degenerative my people are.

“Whoever turns away from truth perishes.”

Take what’s best from both sides and leave those cultural deficiencies to rot. Take the collectivism, the love of family, the academics, the wisdom, the critical thinking…both worlds have so much to offer you and both have so much to ruin you with.

Be wise. Catapult yourself into the world of academia in as many topics of knowledge as possible. Read everything and write everything. What a shame it is for a life to be wasted in ignorance. Gain all the expertise you can in mathematics, the natural sciences, the arts, philosophy, history, sociology, economics, theology, linguistics…I beg of you, leave no dimension of knowledge unconquered.

“Many quote knowledge but few note it in mind.”

Intel is the most valuable resource on Earth; it is what wins wars, sustains power and amplifies one’s voice to thunderous magnitudes.

Be thunderous.

On Love, Hate & Heart

Your heart should be a vessel of pragmatic emotion. All feelings are necessary but letting one consume your heart is fatally naïve.

For the sake of your soul’s protection, prosperity and progression, keeping a meticulously careful eye on your emotions is imperative to your well-being and others. If you love too much, what’s left of you for matters that deserve opposition? If you hate too much, what’s left of you to forgive and accept? Same rules apply to benevolence and aggression, to serenity and anger, to humility and arrogance…again, don’t be a one dimensional flat wall.

You’re always more than your self-belittlement and always less than your self-aggrandizement. Don’t forget your place; you are a puny speck with an unpredictable mortality but then again, how many seemingly worthless men have been immortalized by their actions?

“Put kindness in all that you do.”

The most disastrous tsunamis can start with just a little rumble underwater.

In every person you will find parts to love and parts to hate. I’ve learned that unconditional love is often not warranted in people, it goes undeserved if you’re foolish enough to give such a gift to anyone. In the people I love the most, there are parts that I hate and reject. In the people I hate the most, there’s usually at least one thing to love and that’s their humanity. Unless they’ve forfeited themselves to this world completely.

“Not every sinner deserves punishment.”

For the sake of mercy, do try to separate the idea you reject from its holder. Don’t be embarrassed or compromising of your beliefs as to thoughtlessly love people for how they live their lives. People can be separated from their ideas and so can you. So for the sake of civility and compassion, don’t yield to people simply because they’re ‘nice’ but don’t hate them for being different. Hate and reject their ideas.

“Help others, God will help you. Forgive others, God will forgive you.”

Let your heart be vicious in quest for virtue, ferocious in quest for faith and ravenous in quest for rectitude.

“Work for this world as if you live forever, work for the afterlife as if you die tomorrow.”

Intense empathy is a priceless value. Feel the pain of everyone you know, absorb it to exhaustive levels and you’ll understand human nature better than anyone else.

Anger and hatred, I’ve discovered, are the two most powerful forms of energy. They have allowed me to roll up my sleeves in the bloodiest of moments and shovel my way out of pits when my nails have been well torn off from digging. If you master your anger, with faith, near invincibility becomes a natural byproduct. However anger by itself, uncontrolled and free roaming, is a useless tool like a hammer that’ll only strike fingers.

“Surely, your share of this earth with its great length and width is merely the size of your body, while your cheek is on the dust.”

Don’t be afraid to hate yourself. Self-loathing will either make you or break you but when you use it as a method of self-critical improvement, your evolution will know no bounds. The price is never being satisfied with yourself, of course, but it’s an incomparable gift.

“Victory comes from firm resolution and determination.”

I call it the Amaranthine Anvil. A block of iron that you, the weapon, are constantly re-forged on using the fires of your entire being. When you feel like you’ve become an unstoppable force or an immovable object, an infallible weapon, your self-antipathy will be your checks and balances system. Then the infallible weapon becomes an abomination, driving you mad enough to reevaluate yourself into a stronger one.

It’s a dreadful process but with continuously exponential and glorious results. What virtue ethic isn’t?

So rinse, lather and re-forge.

“The basis of reformation of the heart is occupying it with the remembrance of Allah.”

On Family

There’s no one I love more than my mother. I know you will be the same with yours. Heaven, after all, is under your mother’s feet.

Be conscious of all your blood and love them all. Serve them thoroughly and serve them thoughtfully. Be patient, every family is fucked up in one way or the other. Disbanding a family for any reason is detrimental to every member.

Fight for each other and love one another because at the end of the day, you either thrive as a family or crumble as an individual.

No one ever makes it in life on their own. There’s no such thing as a self-made man, it’s either special conditions or special people. May your blood be that for you if I’m not present.

Take good care of your pack. The alpha wolf may stray every now and then but it always comes back.

Lastly, I wish to leave you with this:

“Good manners are your beauty.”

The Masters of the Universe, Mohammed and his Holy Progeny, peace be upon them all, were sent to fulfill humanity’s Makarim Al’Akhlaq, the ‘kindnesses of existing’. These kindnesses, illuminated in their behavior, are an assemblage of morals, values, beliefs and actions. A set of etiquettes designed to elevate our potential humanity and to eliminate our baneful animalism.

Inquire, acquire, and apply. Be their student, their lover and their servant.

“Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you.”

Do not let this world own you.

 

If I don’t see you in this life, I’ll be waiting for you in the Hereafter.

I love you forever, your father,

Yousef.

 

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