Friday, April 4, 2014

Namaste Outta My Way!

So a month back I woke up to 12 comments waiting to be published on my blog. I did not approve them to be published because quite frankly it was a rant. I did not see the point in encouraging someone’s bad mood or false perceptions. I did however take some time to think about what he had to say. I am almost sure this person is a ‘he’. I wanted to go over my blog posts to make sure that my intentions were understood and that I had not actually offended someone. After speaking to a few people including friends and fellow teachers, I was advised that it would be in my best interest to not respond to this commentator. I decided to let it go. Last week, I woke up to 3 more comments where this person accused me of being unfair for not publishing his comments and not addressing his accusations. And so here is my response. It will be my only response. Everything in blue and quotes are his exact words.

1."Ms Fari, If there is any a bit of honesty in yourself, the right thing to do is to publish my comments for all the visitors of your blog to see and judge for themselves. I understand that this is your blog , and I am not "forced" to visit and read your articles nor that you are obliged to answer to my allegations. The way I see it, some people like you simply do not have the courage and honesty when confronted with questions. Instead of answering my questions and charges, you've chosen the easy way out by not even publishing even a single comment by one. This is not new to me, I have seen many blogger doing the same kind of damage control."
“And I took my time and wrote a lengthy post in your blog rebutting your points, only to see it not published. Well done on damage control, Ms Fari.”

You have clearly not understood the concept of ‘personal blogging’. This is MY personal blog. It’s a monopoly. I rule my page. I get to put what I want on it. You brought nothing constructive to this attack. Yes attack; I cannot call this an argument or discussion. I did not publish your comments because, you sir, are a jerk with the maturity of a lollipop. Your tone was extremely disrespectful and condescending. I did not see the need to subject anyone else to your nastiness, though you obviously have done this on other blogs. If you look back to the blog, you will see I have published a few comments from people who did disagree with me, because they were not disrespectful. And quite frankly, I may have been doing you a favor by not publishing your comments. I saved you from showing the world what an unapologetic rude bigot you really are. But you pushed me and so here we are.

2. "The thing is nowadays, there a lot of yoga instructors out there who are completely ignorant of the Yoga philosophy. Certified to teach asanas, and soon they start to call themselves as Yogis and Yoginis! The goal of Yoga philosophy is to achieve mukti, liberation through the means of self – realization. Are you aware of this, Ms Farida Hamza? "
"Unfortunately, most of the Yoga studios are runned only to give out certs and making money. The supreme goal of the Yoga practices is completely ignored for the sake fame and materialistic gain."

You are right! Which is precisely why right after reading your comments, I went and did some asanas. While doing them, I asked Allah to give me strength to put up with uncouth jerks like you. I then called myself a yogin and then decided that the way to achieve mukti or liberation was to let you stew in your hate while I carried on with my day, because you see, you don’t affect me. Is that self-realized enough for you?
And your accusation of me bastardizing yoga for material gain is a joke. Seriously I sit here laughing, if only you knew how little I make from yoga compared to what I could from a 'regular' job. And despite that, I do it, and you know why? Cos I love it. Try and stop me.

3.“You boastfully call yourself a Yogi with little or poor understanding of Yogic philosophy and you even have the courage to call me " irate yogi" ? : ) Thank you for that... : )”
(The ‘irate yogi’ is in reference to a comment I made to another post)

You obviously have a poor grasp on the concept of bravery. Being brave is following your heart even when the whole world tells you that you are wrong. Being brave is standing up for the truth no matter what. Being brave is also having the courage to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, you don’t know everything. Being brave is being humble enough to have honest conversations with other people. So you give me too much credit calling me brave for calling you an "irate yogi". I could have called you that while I sat farting on my couch. Though you may have a point, I should have simply called you an ‘irate jerk’. You sir, are no student of yoga. Your welcome!! :))

4. You sent me 15 emails ranting about my lack of understanding of yogic philosophy, how, if I have trouble with the Hindu aspects I am better off not practicing yoga, criticism regarding my feelings of being in temples blah blah. Here is my blanket answer to all of that. I am putting down one or two things that are particularly ignorant.

Some excerpts:
On my personal belief that everyone gets to go to Heaven, Muslim or otherwise, you said,

“This is one fine example of hypocritical statements by Muslims. You believe that everyone has a chance to go to heaven..? Really? On what basis is this “belief” of yours is laid upon? Your own assumption? The religious book of yours? Mantra chanting are part and parcel of Yoga philosophy, only insecure stupid people will fell offended by mantra chanting.”
If you cant or feel offended to chant the Sanskrit Mantras, then the best thing to do is drop the intention of learning Yoga all together.”
“Have you ever wondered why practicing and teaching Yoga is considered blasphemous by Muslims in the first place?”
“This is article is full of misleading statement and completely naive.”

You accuse me of being all preachy. But where have I said that I am perfect? If anything I am the complete anti thesis of perfection. I have my own demons just like anyone else. You are upset I focus on asana. Well, maybe that’s the stage I am at in my journey to finding peace. I have never said that only asana is yoga.  You don’t know how I feel when I am practicing an asana, you don’t know my history and what peace yoga brings me. When I am ready to move on to the next step, asana may fall into the background but right now this is where I am. How dare you tell me how I should be practicing yoga, my idea of yoga, my way of yoga? I never claimed to be an expert or to have all the answers. I’m still figuring things out.
You then go on to tell me that if you walk to your local masjid/mosque, the priest/mullah/ustad will call your faith demonic. What have I or this article got to do with them??  And more importantly what makes you think that I believe what they believe? Again, you do not know me or my history. You have no idea how I feel about other religions and so your compartmentalizing all Muslims shows me that the only thing you are well versed in, is the Art of Bigotry. But not to worry, you have company. Most Ustads and Mullahs disapprove of me just like you do.  Do you think you, these mullahs or anyone else will stop me or anyone else from chanting 'Allah', 'Jesus' or 'Yoda' when I sit in Padmasana? Go on, try me.

You ask, "does this make them 'true Muslims’ or not?”
I wouldn’t know. It is not for me to judge them. You go on and on about Muslim parents that disapprove of their kids practicing yoga. Again, what have I got to do with them? No one appointed me spokesperson for Muslims the world over. Just like I am sure, no one appointed you Defender of Yoga or Hinduism.

Do I believe Gandhi will go to hell because he is Hindu? Or that Mandela will go to hell because he is Christian? Or that some of my best friends who I love and adore and who stood by me through everything will go to hell simply because they are not Muslim? And that Osama Bin Laden who killed thousands will go to Heaven because he is Muslim?
No. I do not believe any of that. Just like I don’t believe anyone deserves to go to hell for being who they were born to be.  I believe that our intentions and actions will decide these things. And the truth of the matter is in the end, it does not matter what I think. This is my opinion. If we should get all Islamic, then I say to you, that Allah decides who goes to heaven and hell. It is not for me to judge or decide. Just like it is not for you to judge and decide.

5. On my view about how Zakat and Seva are similar:
"Total ignorance here. Zakat and Seva are totally different . It is dumb to equate both of these. Seva is selfless service expecting nothing in return, no promise of heaven & paradise or happy hour in utopian land. Nobody is going to be damned here or at the afterlife if she or he fails to perform seva. Qoute from Wikipedia: One must give zakat for the sake of one's salvation. Non Muslims are not required to pay zakat, but give a tax by a different name called Jizyah tax. While those who give zakat can expect reward from God in the afterlife, neglecting to give zakat can result in damnation. The giving of the zakat is considered a means of purifying one's wealth and soul"

I gave this comment a spot all by itself because it is astonishingly idiotic. Actually I should not call you that because you put idiots everywhere to shame. Your basis for this argument is Wikipedia?? Where anyone can go and put anything? Did you turn around and ask a Muslim who may have been int he same room? or those Ustads and Mullahs who live down your street??
You are right in that Zakat is monetary but what is the point of Zakat? To remind you that you have a civic responsibility to society. You 'serve' the less fortunate, if you are able to 'serve' you do it. Last I checked, seva or service meant the same thing. I was attempting to bridge two concepts, Islam constantly talks about serving others. It is a person like you who will always draw the  line between people and not find ways to embrace everyone. Whether you like it or not, we are all one.
To lightly touch on your point about greedy yoga teachers, I earn so little that I am exempt from giving zakat.

And the Jizyah tax you talk about is probably the most idiotic of all your comments. The jizyah was something imposed by tribes during the time of the Prophet, around 622 A.D. And the last time it was imposed may have been during the time of the Mughals, the 11th Century. But today, who imposes Jizyah? What does that tell you about being all inclusive and progressive? Do you think it was very wise to use such an outdated idea as a basis for your argument? Your anger obviously clouds your judgment.

What I hoped  to show in my piece was that we have become too influenced by rhetoric. All religions in the end ask us to love and respect each other. You do what is fair, what is honest and right, and everything else falls into place. I want us to think for ourselves, to question, to be curious. That is how it used to be. In the olden days, religious scholars visited each other, exchanged ideas, had real meaningful conversations and respected each other’s faith.
And since you are a stickler for facts, look up Abu Rayhan Al Biruni, an extremely well known Muslim scholar and astronomer who traveled through India and translated the Yoga Sutras in the 11th century. It was later found in the 1920’s in Istanbul. Why would he do this?  Could it be, he thought to himself, 'hey this is good stuff and I need to take this to my people so that we can broaden our minds and live more intelligent, meaningful lives’? Lucky you, Wikipedia has an entry on him.

6. “Despite with all your airy-fairy tale with GOD IS LOVE mantra, there simply isn't any place for hypocrites like in you in the Yogic family..
I do not see any point exchanging thoughts where is no satya in someone's heart and conduct.
Good luck in your self proclaimed utopian Yogic world.”

Thank you!! It is not lonely here in my airy-fairy utopian world. So many tolerant loving people here with me. And you are wrong. There is no place for Haters like you in the Yogic family.

Before I conclude, here is an observation and it is not a new one at all. Hurt people hurt people. I firmly believe that emotionally mature people would not spend their time sending angry emails. If you had come to me from an honest place, with respect and genuine curiosity, I would have tried to answer all your questions. We could have had a real conversation. But all you did was taunt, condescend and be a complete jerk.  I was not interested in feeding your anger or hate.

You must know, that after my initial annoyance, what I felt for you was genuine compassion. You sound angry. So angry. Why? Who am I to affect you this way? I am a complete nobody living my life, you have the option to thousands of blogs, yet you keep coming back to mine and commenting.
Why? Why are you punishing yourself by reading a blog that pisses you off? Don’t you think you need to be asking deeper questions? Like, what is it about me that pisses you off so? What is upsetting you so? If you feel I have bastardized yoga why not do something constructive with this emotion? Why not build something useful instead of focusing your anger on tearing me down?

And that Sir, is about as much as I have to say on this matter. I have given you more time than you deserve. Putting my anger aside, you should know, I am still open to a meaningful and respectful conversation. I am not interested in debate and rhetoric. I encourage you to please explore the world outside your prejudiced notions. Read more than Google and Wikipedia. Speak to scholars, ask questions and practice humility. You will find all your answers once you drop this cloak of rage and judgment. There is a life for you without negativity and insecurities, I promise. I am not interested in investing any more of my time in negativity.
But I can’t help but feel for you. A person with peace in his heart would not take the time to sit down and write so many comments. In order to do this, you must have a lot of negativity in your life. Try love for a change and you will be astonished at how much of it will come back to you. Try compassion for a change and witness how your entire being will surge with love and light. I didn’t mind this exchange one bit. We all have something to teach each other and even you, you bitter man, have shown me that what I am doing is exactly what I need to be doing. Reading your comments, there is an even more urgent need to get the word out. The only way to mukti for me is to keep living my authentic life and to spend my energy on the people who believe in me. I bear no animosity towards you because every experience has made me the person I am. Including your 15 messages.

Namaste and Salaam.