To my dear future wife

dear

Hello, my future wife.

This is the first of the epistles I promised myself I would write to you. May be we have met or may be have not but whatever way, Allah knows best. Whether you are reading this before we meet, or stumble upon it after, I want you to know a few things.

The reason why I am writing this today is because sometimes I can’t stop thinking about you, and I can’t stop myself from imagining how happy we will be insha Allah. Let this letter be a promise to you that I will do my best to be the man I want to be for you and for us.

I may not know yet all of the difficulties that come with life time commitment, but one thing I am certain of is that together, we can build a great family and by His grace also make a difference in this society we have found ourselves. With you by my side, I picture my life with the person I will commit to: you.

I have read, seen and heard about couples who are a continuous source of education and inspiration on how I want our relationship to be. So here and today, I vow to try my best to do the following:

I promise to do my best to make you beam daily, so count on my surprises. Your smile will be my priority. I promise I will always look at you with the same adoration as I did the moment I realized I loved you. I promise to hold your hand when we’re 80 years old with the same liveliness that I did when I hold yours for the first time insha Allah.

I vow to challenge you to challenge yourself for the better; to make you think differently. I promise to try to feed off of your illuminating energy that will inspire me to do the same with myself. I will do my best to ensure that being bored never crosses your mind.

Even in grief and darkness, I promise to show you the different shades of the dark, and to help you find the tiny rays of light that are always there if you seek them. After all, there’s always worse than worst and better than best; everything is relative.

I promise to strive to be a role model for our children insha Allah. I want both you and them to see me as a source of motivation. I want to inspire them in the same way that my father inspires me. With you, I’m certain that our children would’ve the best upbringing any father would ever hope for his children.

I want to use this medium tell you one of my many hobbies which is travelling. I want us to travel and explore the world together insha Allah. I promise to have new stories and experiences to share with you, and maybe I’ll retell the best ones again if you insist. Among the places I want us to visit insha Allah includes:

I want us to visit Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage (hajj and lesser hajj). Pray at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Mosque of the Prophet at Medina. Visit the hilltop towers and also the capital city of Riyadh. Spend the last ten days of every Ramadan in the holy city insha Allah and also visit other historic and spiritual sites.

I want us to visit Turkey. Our first stop would be Aspendos theatre which boasts one of the best preserved ancient theatres of antiquity. It was built in 155 AD during the Roman Empire. Then Patara beach which is one of the longest stretches of sandy beach found anywhere in the Mediterranean. From there, we head to Bodrum Castle which was built in the 15th century. It is one of the world’s best preserved monuments dating back to medieval times. Then we move to the Blue Mosque with its six minarets and sweeping architecture. The Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque is a great edifice. Next is Hogia Sophia which is located in Istanbul. It was constructed in the 6th century. A masterwork of Roman engineering, the massive dome covers what was for 1000 years the largest enclosed space in the world. Explore Istanbul, Ankara and other cities in Turkey as well.

I want also to visit the United Arab Emirate. I want us to see the Burj Khalifa which is one of the famous buildings in Dubai. Not only is it the world’s tallest building, but it also lays claim to the title of the tallest freestanding structures in the world. Then we move to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a mammoth modern mosque of incredible beauty. It is a blend of modern and old. It doesn’t fail to dazzle all who enter with the lavish use of gold, mosaic work and glass work, marble in gigantic proportions and blindly white stones contrasting dramatically under the Emirate blue sky. Then Hajar Mountains which scythe through the desert, creating the jagged and wild heart of the U.A.E with its twisting roller-coaster roads with spectacular scenery along the way connects the region’s tiny villages. Then to the amazing Sharjah Arts Museum which is dedicated to the diverse arts in the country. Then to other tourist sites like Al-Bidyah mosque, Abu Dhabi towers e.t.c.

United States is one place I hope we visit. First would be Hartsdale, New York where Malcolm X was buried to pay respect to one of my mentors. Then we move to the White house in Washington DC which was built in 1792 and 1800 and first used by President John Adams. Our next stop would be the Denali National Park and preserve which is located at Alaska and contains Mount McKinley, the highest mountains in North America. Then we visit other places like Harvard law school, Maya Angelou’s home, Disney world, James Baldwin’s home, Imam Siraj’s mosque in New York, United Nation building in New York, The United States Supreme Court, The Congress and other places.

Indonesia is another place too I hope we visit. The Lake Toba on the Island of Sumatra is an immense volcanic lake about 100 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide. It is the largest resurgent caldera on Earth. Then we move to Tanjung Puting National Park which is located on the Island of Borneo in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan with many local tour companies offering boat tours to view wildlife and visit the research centers. Other places include the Baliem Valley, the Komodo National Park etcetera.

Visiting England won’t be a bad idea. I want us to see the famous London Bridge, No. 10 Downing Street (office of the Prime Minister), Buckingham Palace, the West Minister (Parliament), Emirate Stadium (home to my club Arsenal fc), University of Oxford but most particularly to the historic Oxford Union where leaders like Malcolm X, Winston Churchill, Margret Thatcher, Lee kuan Yew among others have once appeared there for a debate. Visit cities like Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Swansea and many others.

Then we visit India. I want to us to visit the grave of Indian Nationalist Mahatma Gandhi, the famous Tahj Mahal(Crown of Palaces) a white marble mausoleum located at the on the Southern bank of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra. It was built by Emperor in 1632 to house the tomb of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. I want to also Chennai, Ramesharam, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hydrabad and many other cities.

In Iran, I have read about the Amir Chakhmaq Suare which was built in the ninth century in Yazd. Also I want to visit the Eram Garden (Garden of Paradise) in Shiraz which is typical Persian garden with waterway that leads towards the historic Qayam house. Shiraz is the city of love and Persian poetry and home to many historic sites including the tome o Hafez, a well-known Persian Poet from 14th century. Saadi another celebrated poet of the 13th century is also buried in Shiraz. I want us to also visit Tehran and Ramsar resort which is a popular resort on the Capital Sea.

I want to visit President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I am big admirer of President Putin’s style of leadership. So I want to see to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Kazan, Rostov, the annex Crimea and many others cites in the former Soviet Union.

After reading the Autobiography of the great Lee Kwan Yew titled “From the third world to First”, I think we should visit Singapore to see for ourselves how Prime Minister Yew was able to transform his country into one most developed countries not just in Asia but in the world.

I want us to visit of South Africa. The beautiful Sun City Resort known regionally as Africa’s Kingdom of Pleasure situated about two hours’ drive from Johannesburg, Blyde River Canyon, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Robin Island where Madiba Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. Other cities like Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, and others.

Well these are few among many places I hope we visit together in years to come by His grace. I promise to follow up this letter with others just tell you about my other hobbies aside from travelling. Take care of yourself till then.

Sincerely, Your Future Husband

 

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The Story of Layla and Majnun

Love is known to be an overwhelming, all-consuming, intense passion. But just how intense can love be? No one knows the answer, and examples of such a love are rare. But whenever one talks about the depth of love, the intensity of passion, two names almost immediately come to mind- Laila and Majnu.

I first came in contact with the story of Layla and Majnun in Aaidh Ibn Abdullah Al-Qarnee’s “Don’t Be Sad” and later in the poems of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī‘ and Kahli Gibran. Al-Qarnee quoted the biography of a Muslim Scholar:

“If the love of the roaming one for Sulma

And Laila, takes away one’s mind and one’s faculty of reasoning,

Then what do you suppose will be the case for he

Whose heart throbs for the higher world.”

On his part, Rumi in his poem “Say I am you” had this to say:

“God made Majnun love Layla so much that

Just her dog would cause confusion in him”

I did some research on this love story and here are my findings. Enjoy;

Qays ibn al-Mulawwah was just a boy when he fell deeply in love with Layla Al-Aamiriya.  He was sure of this love on the very first day he laid his eyes upon her at maktab (traditional school).  He soon began to write beautiful love poems about Layla and he would read them out loud on street corners to anybody who would care to listen.  Such passionate displays of love and devotion caused many to refer to the boy as Majnun, meaning madman.

One day, Majnun found courage to ask for Laila’s hand in marriage, her father promptly refused him as he didn’t want her daughter to marry below her status. It would mean a scandal for Laila according to Arab traditions.It would not be proper for his daughter to marry a person whom everybody called a madman. As fate would have it, the two lovers were banished from seeing each other. Soon after, Laila’s parents married her off to a wealthy man and she went on to live in a big mansion.

Majnun was overcome with grief and abandoned his home and family and disappeared into the wilderness where he lived a miserable life of solitude among the wild animals.  It was in this wilderness that Majnun spent his days composing poems to his beloved.

Layla was forced to marry this other man, although she did not love him because her heart still belonged to Majnun.  But even though Layla did not love her husband, she was a loyal daughter and so remained a faithful wife.

The news of this marriage was devastating to Majnun who continued to live a life of solitude, refusing to return home to his mother and father in the city.

Majnun’s mother and father missed their son terribly and longed everyday for his safe return.  They would leave food for him at the bottom of the garden in the hopes that one day he would come back to them out of the desert.  But Majnun remained in the wilderness, writing his poetry in solitude, never speaking to a single soul.

Majnun spent all of his time alone, surrounded only by the animals of the wilderness that would gather around him and protect him during the long desert nights.  He was often seen by travellers who would pass him on their way towards the city.  The travellers said that Majnun spent his days reciting poetry to himself and writing in the sand with a long stick; they said that he truly was driven to madness by a broken heart.

Many years later, Majnun’s father and mother both passed away.  Knowing of his devotion to his parents, Layla was determined to send Majnun word of their passing.  Eventually she found an old man who claimed to have seen Majnun in the desert.  After much begging and pleading the old man agreed to pass on a message to Majnun the next time he set off on his travels.

One day, the old man did indeed cross paths with Majnun in the desert; there he solemnly delivered the news concerning the death of Majnun’s parents and was forced to witness what a terrible blow this was to the young poet.

Overcome with regret and loss, Majnun retreated inside of himself entirely and vowed to live in the desert until his own death.

Some years later, Layla’s husband died.  The young woman hoped that finally she would be with her one true love; that finally she and Majnun would be together forever.  But sadly this was not to be.  Tradition demanded that Layla remain in her home alone to grieve for her dead husband for two whole years without seeing another soul.  The thought of not being with Majnun for two more years was more than Layla could bear.  They had been separated for a lifetime and two more years of solitude, two more years without seeing her beloved, was enough to cause the young woman to give up on life.  Layla died of a broken heart, alone in her home without ever seeing Majnun again.

News of Layla’s death reached Majnun in the wilderness.  He immediately travelled to the place where Layla had been buried and there he wept and wept until he too surrendered to the impossible grief and died at the graveside of his one true love. On a rock near the grave, he had carved three verses of poetry, which are the last three verses ascribed to him.

I pass by these walls, the walls of Layla
And kiss this wall and that wall.
It’s not love of the houses that has taken my heart
but of the One who dwells in those houses.’
  

– Qays ibn al-Mulawwah (Majnun)

Such a love is hard to find today. So if ever you love someone, try to love like these two did. It is their love affair that has made Laila and Majnu immortal in the accounts of great love stories.

Love and marital life

To love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love

-Enrich Fromm, “the Art of loving”

Most of us love with conditions predicated upon gains we seek from the other. It’s one of the worst forms of selfishness because it masquerades as selflessness. Love is something that transcends being based on how the other behaves. But I strongly believe that when you see love with your heart, you shall find its echoes in the universe.

Last weekend, I visited a relation and unknown to me; it was his wife’s birthday. They decided to spend the whole day at home with their baby girl. He cancelled his journey to Asaba just to be with his wife on her special day. After all the cake and juice drinking, we took pictures with the birthday lady. Later on, we sat together as he narrates the story of how he met his wife at a friend’s wedding. He said when he first saw her; he knew immediately that she was one made for him. After 3 years and a half of courtship, they decided to get married. Now 6 years don waka, dey still dey carry go, nobody waka, nobody go solo. Indeed, love is just simply magic.

In the same vein, I remember some weeks ago, my neighbour’s wife of 4 years travelled home to see her family. 3 days after she had left, I met the husband and teasingly asked him how he’s coping with life without his beloved wife. To my greatest surprise, he said to me that life is even better and sweeter without her because now for days, no quarrels, no insults and all those nightmares at has become his everyday reality.

The two different scenarios gave me the true picture of life, love and marital life. Most young people think love and marriage is that corporate romanticisation of lust we see in bollywood movies. Sorry to disappoint you, it’s more than that. It takes hard work and commitment from both sides of the coin.

According to my brother Gimba Kakanda, we watch too many Nollywood movies and they are polluting our minds. Listen, there is nothing like as a compatible couples; relationships are simply acts of compromises and sacrifices. No two people in this world were born with the same values, emotions and feelings. What we call love is just a decision to stomach each other’s eccentricities.

My good friend, who has been dating a certain lady since our first year in the university, recently told me that he’s planning on breaking up with her. I told him that I’m disappointed in him and he replied that you can’t just believe whatever you see. In his words, I’m still a novice when it comes to women.

Well to me, I think love is something that is truly natural. When you’re in love, people can easily see it from the looks in your eyes, from the words you speak, from the smiles on your face and in the sanity of thoughts.

I’m pretty sure Mrs. Muntasir is somewhere or some near. May be I’ve met her already but only God knows. I’m learning how to be best husband and father the world has ever seen. In my wonderness, I believe that Eve, the first woman created by God is not as beautiful as you are. Together, we shall work on our weaknesses. I feel that our baby, if we make one, is safe in your arms and likely to inherit your IQ. Also he/she will be perfect, perfect like you are.

A woman is not like an earthen pot which we try by tapping to see which one is stronger. But I’m sure you are strong woman not necessarily physically, but emotionally and psychologically. With you by my side, the sky can only be our starting point by God’s grace.

If you are only as good as the company you keep, then I’m going to blame you for all they will say about me. By the grace of our Creator, you will be my best friend, soul mate, confidant, special adviser and my primus inteperes (first among equals). And when people ask me about you, I’d say I’m your musician and you’re favourite song.