My daughter asked me to read something to her. So I borrowed my little sister’s book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Kids like magic and fantasy stories, so why not read this famous children’s book to my little sweetheart. After the first chapter, I felt there was something wrong in it. Although my baby fell asleep but I simply couldn’t out the book down. JK Rowling had cast a reading charm on me it seemed. Next few weeks my girl saw less of me reading to her and more of reading for myself silently until I got all seven books completed.
The story begins with an orphan, whose parents have just been murdered in their very home in God-ric’s Hollow. Its not a mystery novel because that’s not how its presented. The identity of the murderer is not at all relevant but the thought behind the man is what really matters. All through out JK Rowling has the reader thinking about the purpose and motive behind this double murder. Why kill the Potter family?
Let me talk about my girl again. HP’s author is asking an 11 year old to walk into the mind of a “murderer”. What could my daughter say, “dad, tell me, why did you-know-who murder Harry’s parents? what was their fault? Why does he want to kill Harry so badly?” It makes me wonder, since when do children’s books target the lives and works of murderers and serial killers?
The murder scene at Godric’s Hollow is central to all the 7 books. Again and again we are reminded how the Dark Lord kills James and then moves towards HP. Lily pleads for Harry’s life. Move away you silly girl…as if to say “I just want the boy, not you, so just step aside”. Lily is murdered. Voldemort approaches Harry and wham. The Dark Lord falls. Harry rises.
Because the sacrifice of Lily was supremely cast in blood, being the purest form of miracle, it was stronger than anything any Dark power could ever muster. It was the power of pure love from a “Mugblood” that destroyed Voldemort when he was at the very top invincible, undefeatable, all powerful. It was SACRIFICE that brought the Dark Lord down to his knees. In Islam its called Shahadat, martyrdom.
Godric Hollow, James and Lily’s home town, was also the birth place of Godric Gryfindor, the Lion. Tom Riddle on the other hand is a descendent of Slazar Slytherin, the Snake. Godric, Slytheirn, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff founded Hogwarts. The Lion and the Snake were always at odds at almost everything, including Quidditch. Hogwarts was setup 1000 year ago. James and Lily died in 1981, so the school’s founding date must be around 1000 CE. Interesting, that was the time of the Crusades. It is well known that the European crusaders came into contact with an advanced Islamic civilization in Jerusalem (Al-Quds). One of the interesting areas where Arabs claimed world leadership was in their knowledge of Sciences like Physics, Biology, Medicine, Astrology, Mathematics and ofcourse – Chemistry (which they called Al-Kemia).
A particular branch of Al-Kemia dealt with transmutation, that is the study or research of how to turn lead into gold. Alchemy as it turns out had two aspects, physical and spiritual. The spiritual alchemy desired to transform ordinary men into purified souls. In Islamic terminology its called Tazakkah, to purify. The one who is purified is the one who is successful and is the one who will be accepted and received by the Lord of the Universe. Purification of the soul disregards obstacles such as blood, color, language, race, identity or any other prejudices.
The Knights Templars brought back with them newly found treasures from Jerusalem at the end of their missions. Some of those treasures were ancient books, wisdom, science and technology and ofcourse philosophy. It may just be a wild guess, but God-ric Gryfindor might have been a Templar who brought back the sword from the Arabs alongwith the ideological knowledge of Alkemia. Slytherin must have not liked very much to see his race loose power to half bloods and Mugbloods. For the preservation of his race he went the other way, over to the Dark side. This ideological conflict must have carried on down to the present age when Harry and Voldemort face off just like Dumbledore and Grindelwald did earlier.
Lets come back to Godric’s Hollow. This is where the story begins for this age, with roots that go back more than the crusades, even before the time of Christ (PBUH). It goes back to the Pharaos, especially to one known as Akhenaton, the first monotheist Pharaoh of Egypt. They say, Alchemy started here in Egypt. I don’t doubt that because Egypt (Misr actually) being the birthplace of civilization should have had world religious influence as well. The very idea of resurrection, return to God and submission to God’s will captures the essence of God-ric Hollow if seen through the Alchemist’s eyes. I that room, Lily represents Light, Life, Faith and Goodness while Voldemort brings the face of ego, envy, greed and hate. This war between the two sides started back in Eden and haunts us this very moment. How we respond to it, the choices we make, define us and our souls.
Four writers I regard as the best in my generation shared one thing in common. They viewed the world from my eyes. Sound strange doesn’t it? But not so much if you studied their characters carefully. These four esteemed writers believed and brought to life, in their books, noble characters who lived very ordinary lives that didn’t matter much for politicians, journalists, preachers or the so-called “upper-class nobility”. The Hobbits, the Mugbloods, the orphans, who dared to fight the power of evil all had humble beginnings and this is the important connection that means a lot to me, because I am from the common working class social category.
I used to think that writers sit down at a café with their “Apple” laptops and start firing away, playing with words like a Thesaurus was being revealed to them. I had the feeling that they “build” their story as they go on writing. This simple assumption might be the most important why most people never get to write a good book. At least seems that way to me. I did not understand the “thought” process that goes into weaving a good story. Writing is dam hard work. Its like a “pensieve” where one must fall into a world where characters unfold their stories and memories for the writer to glue them together into a nice package. Basically, writing a good book is HARD WORK.
Just to share an example, it took Tolkien 17 years to finish LOTR (Lord of the Rings)! He wrote his masterpiece “in between” work and family chores. Another great example, and my favorite one, is of JK Rowling, the charming writer who can throw spells on her readers from the moment they open the first chapter of her book. She was actually a single mother, bankrupt and on the verge of a mental breakdown. At possibly the worst moment of her life, she began to write Harry Potter series which eventually became the world’s best selling books with over 400 million copies sold world wide.
After reading Harry Potter, it dawned on me how much thought and effort goes into “imagination”. Of-course, words and prose are very nice to have, but that’s not the reason why readers fall in love with a story. A good story should have interesting plots, mysteries, adventure, humor, pain and excitement.
One more point, writers like Tolkien and Lewis read their stories to each other (the inkling club) where they challenged each other’s creativity, not their language, and that included books like LOTR and Chronicles of Narnia! Lewis didn’t think much about the Elves, while Tolkien was not too pleased about Lewis bringing Christianity directly. What I am trying to say is, lets instead ask the question, “can you think of a good story?”
Let me restate my thoughts. Imagine you are Michael Phelps, the Olympian. You know your schedule, up at 6am everyday, hit the gym, do some hellish workout, and then in the pool, you must stretch the human limits of speed and endurance while in water. Now, you keep doing this day in day out. That’s all you’re doing , yeah, getting up early, exercising, pumping weights, swimming and eating well. After a while you might begin to think that this what it is, exercising and swimming, that is the purpose of your life, the reason for your existence and maybe at some point in time after doing this routine for months or even years, you begin to think that this is what Olympians do. They wake up early, exercise and swim or sprint or whatever, every single day. The objective you may begin to think for an Olympian Swimmer is to “Workout and practice” swimming.
You should be smiling at yourself if you really think that swimming practice is the objective. No. The Objective is to prepare for a day of competition against the world’s best swimmers. You need to think about this. Whenever you want to understand why Muslims pray, think about Michael Phelps and his training routines. He needs to be ready, mentally and physically, for that Big Day, and all his workouts, practices and trainings were designed to make him WIN.
What, prayers are exercises? No. They are part of the big training package which pushes the Believers to gear up for their Big Day. Every Muslim in this sense is an Olympian. He must get himself ready to compete and Win. It all boils down to preparation and training without which probability of winning diminishes pretty fast. 90% training and 10% performance.
You must be asking, what is the Big Day and what sort of competition is this? Let me tell you in a simple way. Every Believer should know that he is capable of doing great things and that is what his life is all about, doing great things. There is no in-significant life at all. Every life is as important as any other. Our work, money, car and other worldly materials are the insignificant things, but our LIVES are SUPREMELY IMPORTANT. Its like the life of a gold medalist Olympian. Imagine that, you are just as important and significant as Michael Phelps or the late Muhammad Ali!
Phelps trains to win gold at the pool. what are you training for? Your goal is to win the gold in the arena where the great battle between good and evil is taking place. To defeat the evil forces must be a darn hard job. That’s because Satan has at its disposal numerous men and women capable of destroying countries if needed with the help of weapons manufactured for mass destruction of human civilization. Satan has worked hard to raise his army of monsters. It wont be easy to defeat them, no not at all. At least not without the proper strategy for winning.
Sounds difficult doesn’t it. But I have news for Muslim readers. This “job” of defeating Satan happens to rest upon the shoulders of all the Believers. Sorry, there is no way to avoid draft in this case. You Muslims have only one job, on target, and that is to defeat the army of Satan. Any Muslim who thinks otherwise, unfortunately, ends in the boiling pot.
So, you want to be ready for the Big Day. When will that be? I’m afraid that Day can be any day, it can even be today. Satan and his soldiers are waiting to ambush you any moment you let your guard down. They have their eyes on you like a CCTV. One opening and wham! they will get to you. If they can throw their curse at you when you have nothing to defend yourself with, the results will not be hard to guess.
That means you need to make yourself strong and able and alert at all times. You need practice. Training and hard work. You can only choose to avoid between the pain of training or the pain of loosing. Cant have both. To avoid the pain of loosing, you also need to be before sunrise, preferably by 5am and start your rigorous training routine. Tahajjud, Fajr, break, work, eat, Dhuhr, break, rest, work, Asr, Break, Magrib, break, dinner, Isha, sleep. This routine of Salah is the Training, the Exercise the Workout designed to make you successful in defeating the Satan and his followers.
Muslim prayers basically intend to churn out soldiers of Faith whose sole duty rests on liberating mankind from the grip of the Dark Lord. Prayer is the secret weapon with which Goodness shall prevail over Evil.
Our enemy is at it every day, every moment, every chance he gets he uses with maximum impact. He never give up in his quest for spreading his evil thoughts and ideas to all of us innocent so-called “lambs”.
This enemy, as evil as he is, comes to me every day and does not leave me until somehow, by the blessings of angels, I fall asleep. I think that’s the only time this evil enemy leaves me alone, although I cant be completely sure of that. For now, lets assume that sleeping temporarily saves me and you from the enemy.
This evil thing makes sure that I think about situations that happened in the past, sometimes way back in the past, things which cant be changed anymore. Then am reminded about situations which never happened in reality. Conversations which never took place. I think about myself being in particularly embarrassing situations. I know I should have killed myself for saying or doing certain things in the past, but that is now a part of my history and no matter what I do I can never change that.
My sworn enemy shows how weak, stupid and unworthy I am of any kind of achievement. It asks, “who are you dude? what quality do you have to make things happen? why would anyone on earth be motivated to follow you? Come on, Wake up and smell the coffee.”
My enemy is wicked. He knows all my weak points. he uses them in all possible ways. He says to me, “look at you, what have you achieved in life? you are physically unfit, psychologically weak, mentally dumb, unintelligent, lazy, worthless piece of meat”. I feel he has his points well connected. He makes sense because there are examples in my life which endorse the above qualities.
This is the way my enemy no 1 wins over me. He wins when he makes me loose hope in myself. He wins when I begin to give up on my dreams. I loose all. He wins everything. In the end, he makes me think like a looser, like a lamb in a slaughter house. Now lets meet this evil enemy. It is ME. Yes, nobody else in the world tells me all these to my face but myself. The voice that speaks to me everyday, every free moment, its my own voice, my own thoughts.
The reason I cant move ahead and change myself is because of these voices that come from within me. I stay away from success because that stupid voice reminds me of failure as a rule in my life. I am a victim of my own designs. My own self made model of life has been structured on failure as an end result.
The good news is that I have another me, the one which is positively programmed to do great things in life. I wish I knew how to talk to myself…