Fathers…

 

On this day, I choose to remember Fathers. There is a myriad of comments and memories of Fathers, both good and bad, depending on who you ask and what time of day it is.

 

Many of us are called “Dad” or “Father” or some variation thereof. Others have the distinction of being called “Pop” or “Poppy.” I tend to be among the latter group, but this story is not necessarily about me. It is about my selective memories of him.

 

I never really knew my birth father but there was a man that in time I would choose to call Father. He inspired me, he guided me and influenced me in so many ways that I cannot recall all of them.

 

He was the first entrepreneur that I ever encountered! He had a potato chip franchise with Frito Lay and he regularly “conscripted” me to join him as he sold its products to delis, supermarkets, and bodegas throughout New York City. I learned how to greet people with a smile and a gesture of friendship. Whether it was “Que pasa, amigo” or “As salaamu aleikum” or “Shalom” these salutations all came from observations of him interacting with people in the quest to transact business and later influenced me in how I would choose to deal with people.

 

There was that extremely noteworthy spanking or “whupping” that he administered.  It deterred me from a future life of crime and directed me to pursue academic excellence at such places as Brooklyn Technical High School, Cornell University and Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

 

My introduction to the martial arts at Jerome Mackey’s Judo Inc. was largely due to his assistance. This served as the seed which would begin to cultivate my interest in Tai Chi Chuan, Kung Fu, and Kendo.

 

He gave me my first car, that 1967 red Pontiac Firebird Convertible with the rebuilt, 383 cubic inch Bonneville engine. I vividly remember cruising up to Cornell on route 79, convertible top down, listening to the Delfonics playing in my cassette deck and me trying to sing in a falsetto voice. I have yet to see a 1970s nostalgia movie portraying a scene such as this but I remain hopeful…

67 Firebird

My interest in pursuing good dietary habits stemmed for an early reading of “How to Eat to Live,” by Elijah Muhammad. My father was not Muslim but he was knowledgable regarding how to live a good life, music, classical and jazz, health and the history of slavery and how it altered our African cultural traditions. Truly, he was his own man as I continually strive to be…

 

Finally, there was the dreaded stroke which subsequently took his life. I was on a business-related ski trip to Vermont when I received a call regarding his condition. I rushed to Brooklyn, New York as fast as humanly possible in the midst of an enduring New England snowstorm.

 

There was nothing that I could do. He just laid there peacefully on life support while those of us present debated whether to disconnect the machine. He had trained me to make decisions when others may falter. In the midst of our moment of indecisiveness, he just drifted off with no help from any of us present…

 

This man will forever be remembered by me and he is forever in my prayers! He gave a song that I used to like so much more significance, Leon Thomas’ rendition of “Song for My Father.”

 

Leon Thomas: Song for My Father – Lyrics1

If there was ever a man
Who was generous, gracious and good
That was my dad
The man
A human being so true
He could live like a king
‘Cause he knew
The real pleasure in life
To be devoted to
And always stand by me
So I’d be unafraid and free
If there was ever a man
Who was generous, gracious and good
That was my dad
The man
A human being so true
He could live like a king
‘Cause he knew
The real pleasure in life
To be devoted to
And always stand by me
So I’d be unafraid and free
If there was ever a man
Who was generous, gracious and good
That was my dad
The man, The man
1http://www.allworldlyrics.com/2017/testi-canzoni/leon-thomas-song-for-my-father/

 

Remembering the Garden…

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A patch of dirt for some, a new beginning for others. These thoughts come to mind as my wife became excited while examining a neglected garden in back of the place where we were staying.

The landlady had given her some scallion sprouts and a tomato plant. She later added some ginger buds. Clearly, the two of them had a “special agenda” that I was not privy to. All I know is that slowly, with a little effort, I was witnessing the beginning of a lush garden start to unfold.

Surely those who believe and do good deeds, are the best of all creatures.
Their reward with their Lord shall be the gardens of Eden, beneath which the rivers flow, to dwell therein forever. God shall be well pleased with them and they shall be well pleased with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord. (Surah 98. Al-Baiyina, Ayah 7-8)

This was a sign from God! He sees all and is ever present!

You start with a vision and work to make it happen. InshAllah, you will achieve success.

I have observed this many times during my life but never really thought about it from this perspective. It was such a clear example. I thank God for giving me this realization. Allahamidulilah!

I used to think of gardens in purely romantic terms (http://wp.me/p2wvqF-1g), now there are added dimensions to the metaphor. It is a shelter from the storm of uncertainty, a haven of contentment, it is a place of of everlasting bliss… This is what we all striving to achieve.

The garden is the reward for one’s perseverance!

 

 

 

 

“Your Secret Garden…” This Is My Beloved. N.p., 23 Aug. 2012. Web. 17 Jan. 2016.

The Power of Prayer

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Every morning at the crack of dawn, I look forward to the time in which I pray. It is a time when I contemplate my life, review what I have done and seek guidance on how I should proceed further.

Prayer, salat, supplication or whatever you might call it is your personal conversation with God. There are many characterizations of this gesture. Some may dress a certain way. Others may stress that it be performed in a language not understood by all, simply a repetition of verses. It may argued that its structure is tantamount to its conveyance. I would humbly submit regarding the issue of form over substance, the latter of the two takes priority.

It is, I repeat, your conversation with God! I only hope that your sentiments are from the heart, most sincere and occur on a fairly regular basis.

The contents of a good prayer should include gratitude and a request. It should express gratitude acknowledging the excellence and favors of the One to Whom we address our prayer. We may not realize just how much we have to be thankful for, from the air we breathe to life itself…

Life is better when one shows gratitude. It sets you in the right attitude and may protect you from temptations. It has been said that “God turns to man when man turns to God.”

The other crucial element is the request. The vicissitudes of life can be overwhelming. We must acknowledge that we do not control all things and that a little help may be warranted. Only through the remembrance of God and His role in all our lives can matters truly be placed in their proper perspective. One’s request may be to seek guidance on how to make someone’s life better.

On a personal note, as I get older, I feel the need to express gratitude for all that has happened to me, both good and bad. I have come to believe that all experiences are just trials and challenges instituted by God to help me better myself, to make me stronger. He is the Guardian, Sustainer, Provider and Nurturer of all things!

There have been times in my life when I have achieved much success. There were other times when my will to see future days waned. I was happy for God’s intervention when it was most needed. Now I view each setback as an opportunity to regroup and continue to press forward. Now I begin to understand the importance of having faith. I accept all challenges and take them all in stride…

Today, after I pray for me, my family and my friends, I find myself praying for a better world. I pray for world peace and harmony (http://wp.me/p2hekR-v). I believe we each have the sense of a divine presence within us. If we concentrate collectively, if we each make an extra effort, anything is possible!

Won’t you join me in this prayer? It costs you nothing and the potential for rewards are immeasurable…