To all who have helped me recently and with special thanks to Nicolas Deloffre and the people of France.
During the past four months I have had no salary
but Allah has been most gracious to me and those under my right hand, none of whom have suffered any loss during this time thanks to good folks the world over.
May Allah return the grace they have extended to us with abundance.
The Mekong River in North Thailand commands its stand among great rivers as a champion of challenge, beauty, divine sustenance and transcendence. I dipped my hand in it recently as a result of your generosity and wish to thank all of you with this essay, insh”allah.
Although I’ve been living and working in Malaysia for several years, Malee Zaida and I have a home (pic above) in Northern Thailand where we have been supporting several members of her family, including her daughter (now a PhD student; see: http://zaidpub.com/welcome/about-2/zaida/), her parents and others for several years.
Her mother (far right), who has lived all of her seventy-five years only sixty kilometers from the Mekong River, had never seen it. Her 78 year old father (left below) hadn’t been there since he was a ‘cattle drover’ in the 1960’s when it took a week to ten days to get there. Yesterday, we took them both to the mighty Mekong, which I myself saw in person for the first time.
The occasion was the celebration of Thailand’s equivalent of mother’s day. Besides this, I had to cross into Laos to get my passport stamped. We made our way in a typical sampan piloted by a virile local fellow who handled the tremendous currents with ease. On reaching the other side we were immediately assaulted by the presence of nearly twenty-five giants who swamped the tiny immigration office. These were T-shirted and shorted, back-packing Anglo-Europeans and Americans who dwarfed the locals and over rode all sense of traditional propriety with their garish garb, boisterous self-possession, immodest dress and remarkable obesity. Of the ten or so ladies, only one was feminine enough to be considered attractive — a silent token of Western grace.
Glad to leave them behind, we pushed on to an open air market where the comparatively diminutive ladies in our crew enjoyed the displays by carefully and meticulously shopping for needful things that were markedly unique and inexpensive, being on the Left bank of the Mighty Mekong’s ‘People’s Republic of Laos’. After an hour or so, we returned to Thailand by the same Sampan and that’s when I dipped my hand in the Mekong River’s transcendental waters. The journey took about twenty minutes and was exhilarating enough for me to plan a river excursion on my next visit, God willing.
The Mekong of the Golden Triangle is nestled in breathtaking highlands that are fully clothed with forests and pockmarked with villages, shrines, farms, orchards, rice paddies and small towns. As I took in the view along with river water spray, I noted a 3-D panorama that must have inspired someone like Einstein to consider relativity.
Our pilot’s little boat swiftly and deftly glided through whirlpools and eddies, against waves and currents, steadily taking us upstream despite the river’s urging us south. The water rushed past as if it were intent on an important meeting, completely oblivious to our presence despite my right hand’s attempt to embrace it with fingers dangling off the beam to port. The receding bank tried it’s best to keep pace and stay with us, but wasn’t up to the task as it fell behind with its crops of anchored vessels, lush foliage, temples, and the open air markets that dotted its shore.
We were moving along upstream at a brisk pace when, suddenly, two smaller sampans piloted by virile examples of youthful manliness passed us in a race about fifty yards to starboard. They made us — the swift gliders of eddies and currents — look as if we stood still. I became jealous of their vigor, of their exuberance and river born sagacity. In an instant I thoroughly envied them their water borne existence. All at once, I, an old man, wanted to reverse the tide of my own life. But – - – ‘They’ belonged to the Mekong; ‘I’ was just a foreign observer who would soon recede to the cyberspace of a cloistered existence as a writer of words and ideas that may or may not be worth reading. But ‘they’ — the new river masters; these “Young Virile River Boat Men’ — were free as long as they obeyed the diktats of the mighty waters.
I sighed and turned my gaze to the far bank off starboard.
Then I remembered the river was on its way to Vietnam. In an instant I imagined thirty caliber rounds tearing holes in the sampan, its pilot, in me and my family. This sobered me enough to remember my purpose, because I knew those bullets and guns were financed and manufactured by the same cadre that raised the white giants who systematically destroy sampans, cultures, rivers and truth for the small returns of temporal profit and power.
I resolved to return with my own weapons and gaze at the river, its banks, its people, its mountains, its dragon chasers and divinely endowed duties while writing and envying the young no more.
I took my adopted family to lunch. It was dakwah and they were hungry.
One must bear in mind that, especially in these times, Thais are generally distrustful of Muslims and also that I am the first Muslim her family & village have come into contact with. Hence, Dakwah here is a slow process that takes years under such circumstances; being mindful also that it took the prophet (wslm) several years of carefully guided measures to convince his own people, who knew him from childhood, to accept Islam.
For Those Following My Request for Assistance:
In a few more weeks (by the end of September), I hope to have secured a new position in KL, one that improves on the previous academic chairs as an adviser and trainer of young professionals, and perhaps also as an adviser for a Natural Medicine Initiative in response to the impending increase in cancer due to Fukushima.
Until then, we are still in need of support, so give if you can; please do. These few people (Buddhists) are now aware that help they receive is coming through me, from you. Believe me, it is much appreciated, and they will tell everyone they know what you Muslims have done for them.
Thank you once again.