Saturday, September 10, 2005
Two Aussie Mossie Power Chix
Tonight, I met up with two people who have become close friends. One I have known for over 12 years, the other for a mere 5 weeks. One was brought up in a Hindu family, the other regards herself as Buddhist.
Aruna is an actuary and currently works as a management consultant. She was born in KL, regards herself as a Hindu and lives in the CBD. Aruna is a power-chick with a mind full of amazing ideas. Yet at this stage of her life, Aruna is searching for herself. In the process, she is sharing her wisdom with whoever may care to listen.
Bridget was born in Christchurch. Her ancestry is pre-colonial Scottish. She regards herself as a Buddhist who is open to all sorts of ideas. Recently she attended a sufi retreat where she learnt about the various states of Islamic spirituality. Upon her finishing the retreat, I rewarded her with a copy of Imam Suhrawardy’s sufi treatise entitled “The Shape of Light”.
Like Aruna, Bridget works as a management consultant. Yet her real passion is music, a passion she had to leave following a nasty incident which left her unable to play her favourite instrument. As a result, she had to go back to university and learn new instruments for managing people.
Aruna and Bridget are business partners. But they are also partners in fun and good times. They see each other regularly and have deep discussions on politics, religion, spirituality, life, blokes and other contingencies. Often, I am the token male in their deeply feminine discussions.
So what makes these 2 women mossies? Aruna and Bridget share a passion for justice. They are not satisfied with living middle class educated existences. They have seen and reached the top of the corporate ladders. They have been involved in power, wealth and professional excellence. They have seen the big end of town.
Bridget spends 2 days a week working for various charitable organisations as a volunteer. Her involvement is not some feel-good middle class fantasy to soothe her soul while she takes a break from managing her portfolios. Bridget takes her compassion seriously.
For some people, spirituality involves a few visits to the Adyar Bookshop every year. They might read some pages of the latest work by the Dalai Lama. But for Aruna and Bridget, it’s all about soul. They practise what they preach, and are working on projects to show business how spiritual values are also profitable in the long run. Corporate spirituality is their mantra.
I see aspects in Islam in these 2 women that are hard to find in many Muslim women. I was brought up to believe that Islam is about managing one’s compassion. That means you have to have compassion in the first place. Once you have this, you need to channel the compassion in a way which does not eat you up like a vat of kainic acid.
I am learning how to channel compassion into everything I do. I am also learning that I need to find my calling, my purpose in life. I cannot afford to put out too many fires, or else I will get burnt.
These lessons I am learning from my two sisters in Islam, Aruna and Bridget. Both have learnt from difficult experiences that compassion has to be managed properly. Both have set me straight and showed me that I am sometimes in danger of being consumed by too many fires I am trying to extinguish.
One of the great blessings in life is to have good friends. A real friend is not a sycophant. A real friend says what needs to be said, regardless of who gets offended. Today Aruna told me straight that I had to stop trying to box up my feelings, that it was OK to express a bad mood. Bridget keeps telling me that I have to listen and not just talk. Thankfully, they scream these and other messages so loudly in my ears that I will never forget them.
And so I thank my Creator for blessing me with the company of two women who have surrendered to God. Their company makes me not just a better Muslim, but also a better man.
© Irfan Yusuf