•May 29, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Sorry for the length… It just kept going and I could not figure out how to edit things out.




I speak of a people who inhale the scent of sacred earth by placing their faces to it

At a time when most of the world is asleep and dreaming of providence

They make their backs crooked, palms to the sky,

Their words lift off of the tongue and take flight to the divine.

They walk the land with the with every step in measured paces

The mark of prayer delicately, painted on their faces like calligraphy

The script with which they move like droplets that meet seamlessly

With a water’s surface delicately, producing a ripple, effortlessly

Stirring that which was still, the reverberations felt, impeccably

Their lips moistened with remembrance, every second their tongues unfurl

Their listening attuned to the signs of God in their world

They hear Him… in the rustling of leaves moved by a wind unseen

They feel Him… between the moment of sleep and the dream

They sense him… in the scent of rain before the squall

Between the flash of lightning and its thunderous call

They see Him… in the way the clouds provide cover for the exposed

And they know Him… in their inability to completely know Him, Cloaked

Their calloused hands speak of work and affliction

Despite no complaints escaping their mouths of their condition

The softness of forgiveness is seen in the deepness of their eyes

The creases in their cheeks speak of healing smiles and empathetic cries

The recorder on their right had run out of ink in his well

And on their left, there is but a book of torn pages, fell

To the ground like the water of ablution off their arms

And in this battle of the righteous they take up arms

Against themselves, they stab inward and slay their own egos

Extract the darkness of  their hearts, cleansing their souls

Their chests burst forth, the result of hours of reflection

Their shoulders exhausted from carrying the weight of their mistakes, corrections

Made only to their physical form, their soul from a place of perfection

In low, hushed voices they whisper their undialed connection

With their Lord and with each other, the light of their faces hint

That no matter the shape or size of their feet, they share the same footprint

Fitting perfectly in the path that they all share behind he whose name was mercy

He who started the spark that led them to their journey

He who gave them instruction in a voice echoed 1400 years to their ears

Echoed off in the vibrations that bounced off those before them , their peers

Who set sail on the same mission

Blood, sweat and tears fell, but never blurred their vision

I speak of they who stand up with the heads peaked in pride

Against injustice and oppression, never denied

The risk or the sacrifice that came with the fight, to find

Their words like bullets found their targets in the hearts and minds

Of those who never knew, or refused to

Until their tongues carved like swords through what they were used to

Held down the fists that used to abuse them

Aim arrows that slice the whirlwind of falsehood that used to confuse them.

They who run headstrong into the enemy’s chest to embrace them

Gaze into their  eyes tainted with filth and erase them,

Like stained glass they shatter houses of hate with soft tones

Make themselves humble, Crumble their own thrones

I speak of those who put their own lives up as collateral

Because living life while others suffer is incompatible

Their heartbeats burst with passion through their breasts

March on evil and demand to confront their best

And then crush them with sincere dominance and will

Destroy the heartless from within until their hearts rest and are still

I speak of they who remind each other that death is nearer than they believe

And that from the moment they were conceived

That this world was a myth and that every moment after the beauty of their birth

That despite growth upwards, they were moving closer to earth

That their graves were already dug and waiting for them to swallow

And so for every moment they breath, they fill that which is hollow

In their heart, leave no space unfilled and unoccupied

I speak of they who on the day that they lay on their beds to die

The world will shiver for them as it mourns them and yearns,

And with their last breath they will say, from Him we have come and to Him we shall return.





An Apology Remiss

•January 17, 2013 • Leave a Comment

A poem I wrote after the Newtown shooting. For all of the children in this world who get the short end of the stick because we have not taken the responsibility that is ours to make this place better for them:

An Apology Remiss

20 caskets, small and shaped like angels, sublime

Souls taken so early, you were still much less worldly THAN you were divine.

And with you, royal innocence crowned,

Are buried all of our excuses, six feet beneath the ground.

Entombed are our alibies that we were too busy and that we couldn’t make a change

That we had bigger problems, and that your killer was just deranged.

We excuse ourselves into thinking we had no part

And we forgive ourselves without asking for forgiveness from our hearts.

We stand back and try to wash the red off our palms

We hold prayer vigils, and sing guilt-ridden tribute songs.

We unite but for a moment, in collective mourning and grief

And then we sleep off our contrition, the morning comes as a relief.

We then pretend this never happened and try to forget

That Newtown is just a symptom and the disease still festers yet.

So before I close my eyes and turn my back on you like the rest of them

I have composed a written apology before slipping into the bliss of being purposefully blind,

To every single child in this world that has been left to suffer, on behalf of all humankind:

I am sorry.

That this life has been too much for us with all of its stresses and demands

That we have held on to our own desires instead of holding on to your little hands.

I am sorry that you will never live out your dreams or get to graduation

That bombs and guns were your teachers and injustice was your education.

I am sorry that we could not yet figure out this whole thing about living in peace, see

We have found it is far too hard to love and hate just comes too easy.

I am sorry that when I saw so much oppression, I chose to sit by quietly

When I may have had a chance to speak up, I watched and cried silently.

I am sorry that I didn’t do my part although I knew I should

And that bullets reached your heart much faster than I ever could.

I am sorry I was not able to give you enough role models to admire

I am sorry on behalf of this generation for absolving ourselves by blaming the one prior.

I am sorry for obsessing about the present and living in the past

Instead of thinking about the future, always putting you last.

I am sorry for all of the unsung lullabies and bedtime stories that will go unread

For the never-to-be laughs and the ‘I love you’s’ that will go unsaid.

I am sorry that the part of mankind you witnessed was the worst

Like all of the Adam Lanza’s in the world, who we probably failed first.

I am so very sorry.

I beg of you that when you reach heavens gates, all of you together

And Abraham, with open arms guides you into paradise to play forever,

Please tell him that you were never meant to be a sacrifice, and that you unjustly died

And that the only ones left to grieve for are those who still consider themselves alive.

Because, though the angel of death came and collected your souls early,

In reality, you remain alive with God and what really died was our humanity.

Calling Indiana: Explaining Islam via Skype, Author: Issa Abbasi

•July 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It was March 1st.  I was checking my email and Facebook when I saw a new message.  Nope, this message wasn’t my Hadith [1]of the Day message, but a message I was not expecting.   The message was from Mr. Curtis, a history teacher from my old high school in New Jersey.  Mr. Curtis was now teaching at Connersville High School in Indiana and had just covered the topic of Islam in his history classes.  In his message, he asked if I was available to Skype his class in the coming week so that his students can participate in an actual dialogue with a Muslim.  The vast majority of students he explained had never met a Muslim in their life and mainly saw Islam and Muslims as a religion and group of people condoning violence and terrorism.

I had some time off from work at the time and agreed to Skype Mr. Curtis’ class.  He added in a reply message to me that the students’ concerns were over a few “Muslims” claiming the return of the Rightly Guided Caliphate and endorsing the use of Shariah [2]law in America.  I really didn’t know where to start my research to ease some of these students’ concerns, but I thought I should be ready for any question that could come my way.

8:20 AM came on Friday, March 11th.  Skype, and the internet in general, was not cooperating on CHS’ side, so I spoke to their classroom by phone for about 15 minutes.  I introduced myself and added that by no means was I a scholar of Islam or someone able to give fatwa.[3] It was now the students’ turn to ask me any questions they had about Islam.  Silence was on the other end of the line.  To ease the tension, I told the students to ask me just about anything and I would be more than willing to try an answer their questions.

The first question came in and I was asked whether or not I had any problems being discriminated against.  I answered that I personally did not have any major problems of being discriminated against, but I most likely owed that to my light complexion and reddish colored beard.  The second question however, threw my off; the student asked me to “describe my typical [New] Jersey day.”  “Are they kidding me?” I thought.  Did they really think I did something that was out of the ordinary in my everyday life?  I started explaining to the class that every day, I wake up, perform ablution[4], pray the first of five daily prayers, shower, eat breakfast, go to work, perform ablution again at lunch time, pray, eat my lunch…do we see a pattern here?  Compared to the average American, with the exception of praying five times daily, my day was no different.

 Since my time was so short with the first of two history classes, the remaining questions focused around marrying in and out of Islam, the dress code in Islam and the shariah law movement.  I summarized the class period by explaining that Shariah law was nothing to be scared about and that a vast majority of it (75 %), explains worship and family or economic law in Islam.  I agreed to have one more session the next Friday to make up for the time we lost due to technical difficulties that morning.

The afternoon class, much like the morning class, asked very similar questions.  The class was very interested in the idea of the marriage process in Islam.  Particularly, the class found the example of my sister’s recent engagement and the process of becoming engaged to be wed in Islam, quite intriguing.  The class was even further fascinated by what they continued to learn about Islam and how Muslims practice their religion in America.

Friday, March 18th came and I now talking to CHS via Skype.  They could see me through their camera and I could see them.  If anyone had any doubt, I was real, had a light complexion and a reddish beard.  The students were thrilled we had another chance to further discuss Islam with a live Muslim and I was thrilled to talk about Islam to a group that was eager to listen.  As questions started coming in, I felt a greater sense of comfort with the students given the questions they were asking; “When is your birthday?” “What did you study in college?”  “What is living in New Jersey like?”  Now that the students had seen past the mysteriousness of a different religion, I felt like my purpose was fulfilled; I was able to demonstrate to two groups of students that Muslims are not anti-Americans, all Arabs, or all any of the countless stereotypes that hate-mongers and media outlays portray us to be and all through a phone call and Skype session.

After our Skype session ended, I was invited to the CHS history class Facebook page.  Before the end of the day, I received a half dozen friend requests on Facebook from the students in the class.  I finally understood what a good friend kept telling my study group about dawah; change about the perception of Islam must come from the heart and not from policy or legislation.  Then, and only then, can we all seek to better understand one another in this increasingly diverse nation and global economy.

[1] A Prophetic saying from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him)
[2] Islamic law
[3] A religious opinion in Islam given by a Scholar.
[4] Islamic ritual required prior to performing prayer (salah)

The All-American Solution

•April 7, 2011 • 4 Comments

Random thoughts blog:  Sharia Law is a misnomer to begin with, but forget the technicalities for now. Literally translated, sharia means ‘path.’  More generally it can be considered the Islamic code of conduct.  It does not invade, or creep. It does not dominate or condemn. It isn’t alive or sleeping under your bed awaiting the opportunity to enslave your women and stone your men. The personification of sharia is probably the real mistake here.

As the last few months of political drool have dribbled out of the mouths of the boorish and inane, I have sat back and watched with a certain feeling of ‘handcuffedness.’  Thoughts like: “There is no way I can ever get to these people,” or “only if I could just sit down with them over a cup of coffee,” have passed through my mind.  But, sadly, I do not know how to begin the conversation.  I guess that is why I am writing… hoping Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich will read this discrete blog and have catharsis.

“Maybe they are not so bad after all!”  Of course that thought is as silly as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich being leaders of a political party in America in the 21st century. So… I write for naught … write for an audience whose eyes see me as the enemy. A covert operative sleuthing my way to impose… whatever it is they think I am going to impose. I can come back here with verses from a certain burned book that state there “is no compulsion in religion” but that would do little.  Apparently Google provides better misquoted/taken out of context verses than an actual Muslim.  I could mention that a large percentage of slaves in this country were in fact Muslim and that America is what is it is after having been carried on the backs of African Muslims AND that Islam is as American as… well… slavery (slaves usually didn’t get to eat that much apple pie).  But certain skulls have not been made permeable to intellectual debate and reason.

When that Gainesville priest burned the Quran, I heard things like: We should not take the actions of a nutjob to paint an entire religious community as moronic bigots.  I could not help but snicker. (By “snicker” I mean vomited).  The irony is as in your face as it gets but it still remains to have an impact on a large part of our country.  I’ve thought of taking news clippings and posting them with religious affiliations in front of every criminal’s name so as to prove the inequity with which Muslims are treated when it comes to crime:


a)      Christian Sex offender Phillip Garrido will plead guilty today to some charges in connection with Jaycee Dugard

b)      Alexander Alfaro, a Protestant, was convicted Tuesday on 16 of 17 charges related to the 2007 execution-style killings of three college friends.

c)      Bernie Madoff, a Jewish investor…. Ect…

The thing is… this doesn’t work either. None of these tactics to reveal bias work.  When Muslim advocacy groups are formed, they are smeared as supporting terrorist organizations. When Muslim politicians come into office, they are a threat to our values. I’m over it.  I am going to take another American value and use it as a weapon when it comes to the Peter King’s, Pastor Jones’s, Mark Levin’s, Giuliani’s and the residents of Murfreesboro, Tennessee… in my mind its called the ‘it’s-a-free-country-so-bite-me’ card. I am free to be named Yousaf, to pray 5 times a day, to say God is Greater (Allahu Akbar), to grow a beard, to be brown skinned, to build a mosque and turn to the haters and  say “It’s a free country!”

You would say… Now Yousaf… this is not the best way to go about things.  You can have dialogue. You can reason.  You can change the hearts… I say to this… yes I can, and for those who are willing to talk to me: I WILL BUY YOU DINNER and have a discussion… and for those who are not… my tax dollars, citizenship and voice grant me the permission to say:

As a human being, a Muslim and an American… I do not have to prove anything to anyone. I would love to… but I don’t have to. I am not ashamed of my religion, its demands of me, its expectations of my conduct and I am definitely not ashamed of words like Allah (God), Allahu Akbar (God is Greater), or Sharia (path).  I will not hide my beliefs in the face of those who try to demean me or patronize me behind a veil of arrogant ignorance.  I will not cover up my pride and confidence in knowing that I am a believer in a religion (it counts as a religion silly people) and a way of life that encourages me to fight for justice and principles.  And I am not ashamed of being American who wants to be nice and kind but not submissive and docile. For anyone who cannot understand that: With my identity as an American Muslim and with the rights bestowed on my by the constitution of the United states of America, I take my finger, point it at my tush and say…. Bite me.

Aside: You can probably tell this post swerved off course after the first paragraph. I normally do not write with so much frustration but it happens. If this bothers you, read the last paragraph again 🙂 just kidding. I am sure years from now I will look back at this piece and see an angry young man with little experience but sometimes a guy just has to write what he is thinking. It is therapeutic.

Pre-Residency Writing

•April 5, 2011 • 1 Comment

Given that residency begins in a few months and my life will essentially be on hold, I decided that if I do not start writing now I may never get back into it.  There have been so many topics that have come and gone that would generally be blog-worthy but my heart and mind have been reluctant to write because of the generic/cliché thoughts that come to mind.  So quickly I will recap everything I can remember in a few sentences to get them out of the way:

1) Death is a reality for all of us. May Allah have mercy on our sister Rehab.

2) Yay Tunis! Egypt! Go Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen!!

3) Gaddafi is a crazy man and physically looks like a camel.

4) Hopefully these ‘revolutions’ bring about change that is worthwhile.

5) Pakistan continues to be in a sad state and everyone in the world continues to ignore them… though they did play well in the cricket world cup.

6) Peter King is a jerk.

7) That CNN “Unwelcome” piece was depressing. Racism is making a comeback.

8) 18% field goal percentage will never win a national championship.

9) If that tsunami did not humble you, there is nothing in this world that can.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way… I thought I would talk about the movie the Green Mile. The movie is about a prison of death row inmates (called the Green Mile) awaiting their turn for the electric chair.  The movie has some very interesting twists but leaving that aside, the main character, portrayed by Tom Hanks, makes a beautiful reflection at the end of the movie. “We are all on our own Green Mile.”  We are all on death row.

Death is not a mystery, at least concerning its certainty. It will happen. To our grandparents, parents, siblings, friends and children. The world has shown us how feeble life really is. A disease, a tidal wave, an explosion, a car accident, a falling branch or a good old fashion heart attack: It is coming.  And we do not wait for it, it waits for us. Like a brick wall that we cannot run through.  We metaphorically walk upon a path that has a finish line.  A cliff that we all will go over. I speak of this not to be morbid but to make a point.  Ignoring death does not make it go away.  In anything in life, when you know that you have limited time, you rush.  A basketball player who can see he has less than ten seconds on the clock  dribbles down the court quickly, makes a move without hesitation and puts up a shot as soon as he can find an opening.  The same player would take his time if he could see that he had a few quarters before the game was up. It is human nature to stretch or squeeze our activities into the time we have allotted. But with death… we just don’t know when the buzzer goes off.  There is no last second shot because the scoreboard does not have a timer that we can see. You would think that with this understanding we would do everything we could, hustle our butts off, and squeeze every last ounce of effort in assuming that the timer is going to go off any second.  For the most part… we don’t.  We waddle. Hold the ball too long. Take too many breaks.  Stand complacent, as if the scoreboard manager was never going to hit the button to signal game over.

I know this is not a unique understanding or a mind blowing reminder but it just is. I challenge you with an exercise that hundreds of people are faced with every day in doctor offices.  Today, you have been diagnosed with cancer.  Not the curable kind or the manageable kind.  Pick one– Pancreatic, Lung, Gall bladder, Colon, Brain or Skin.  6 months to live… if you are lucky.  You have already told your family, and friends.  You have made the appropriate arrangements in terms of your financials and assets.  You ahve gotten past denial and anger and depression.  Now you have just time. 6 months on the game clock.  You have the ball. What would you do?  Some go into hiding. Some fulfill a “bucket list” of activities they wanted to do before they die. Some pray. I challenge you to sit down for 10 minutes and plan the last 6 months of your life now. And then live it.

Of The Devil

•September 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I am not going to spend time arguing the premise of Terry Jones’s plans to burn copies of the Quran.  Nor am I going to discuss at length the Ground Zero (or not so much ground zero) mosque debate that has left most of us exhausted and nauseated.  Others have parsed and thoroughly run ragged these hot button issues and I can honestly say that I can not add any value to the discourse.

It is too easy to take a position, indoctrinate talking points into the subconscious, spew them out P.R.N. and sit back pretty and content that I have such grasp on culturally relevant issues.  But it feels good.  It feels good to know what position Obama has on issue A and the quick retort of the GOP followed by the wise-aleck responses of punditry from all spectrums of the political sphere.  It mimics education and academia. It is like an addiction. Adrenaline courses through our veins as we watch Sarah Palin play the heel and say something inexplicable, much the way Kurt Angle used to make our blood boil in enjoyment as he repeated the three I’s.  I apologize for the WWF/WWE reference but the jeering/cheering crowds and the insult slinging ‘professionals’ on TV who play to the masses emotions take me back to my childhood memories of sitting on the couch between my brothers watching Hogan “hulk out.”

After an “event” our hearts thump with anger or admiration.  A few more words from a superstar and our faces flush with pride or anger or fury or something in between.  “What!? You heard that?!” or “Hell ya! That’s right!”

YAY  “The Big O” Olberman! BOO Sarah “Grizzly Mama” Palin and Newt ‘the noot” Gingrich!  What! Palin has tag teamed with Uncle Beck (John Candy reference)! Can you believe it! This is the greatest Wrestlemania…. EVER!  The Bible Belt is going crazy…Just listen to them roar! USA! USA! And the angry mob takes over.

They serve it up. We eat it up.  And as we loosen our belts, we are satisfied by the girth of our emotional friability.  The soap opera continues in our dreams as we imagine Obama floating down from the rafters and laying the smack down on some fools from the “FRW” (that’s the cool name for the far right wing).  It encompasses our free time as we check for news updates and tweets and facebook status changes. Our workplace conversations walk the tightrope of stating our opinions while not seeming too opinionated.  It owns us. We hang on to the words of a political figure and instead of taking them for what they say, we try to figure out why they would say such a thing, what impact it would have upon the delicate balance of things, whether the impact was planned or spontaneous, and what it means … well it never really means anything.

But… Like the 8th season of all reality shows, the audience is getting restless.  People are annoyed… or at least I am and if you ask my wife, she will tell you that I often assume all people feel the way I do.  I will resign myself to not reacting anymore. No more gut-wrenching moments waiting for commercial breaks to end to find out the next big thing.  I retire my jersey of roller coaster emotion and hang it high so that all may see what used to be.  I will no longer feel good or bad or disappointed or pleased by the drama from Alaskan mamas or even  the truthiness of John Stewart.  It’s not worth it nor does it bear any fruit.

When it comes to these two issues– the ‘burning’ and the ‘mosque,’ I will avoid the current event buzz and the allure to just rant.

Instead, I would much rather talk about the basics.  Not the mosque but what it symbolizes.  Not the burning of publications but instead what the text carries.  Not the Islamics (as Dr. Jones puts it) but what they may hold in their hearts.

The very first verse revealed in the Quran was:

“Read! In the name of thy Lord Who createth.”

In poetry, plays, conversations with your spouse, speeches from the president and in anything… the first word, action, or event sets the tone for everything that is to follow. The very first verse in the history of this religion that finds its name plastered on the news, on the tongues of pundits, next to the words ‘of the devil” and in the hearts and minds of 1.4 billion inhabitants of this Earth, instructs mankind to “Read.”  A command, not a recommendation or an afterthought.  A primary principle.  Why? The answer is in the fifth verse of the same chapter: (so that God may) teach mankind that which he knew not.

Humility is found here.  You read with the understanding that you just don’t know.  You have to leave your emotions, your preconceived notions, your biases and your prejudices at the door to enter this realm.  Without this, the mosque is nothing and the book that Terry wants to burn is just ink and paper.  I could continue here but I know of someone who did it better and do not want to waste your time:

I pray God grant us the knowledge that remains elusive to us and gives us the understanding that most of the time, we know not.


Live As A Traveler, Author: Issa Abbasi

•May 28, 2010 • 2 Comments

If you have been checking back and forth for the past seven weeks for an update on this blog, I apologize for the delay in posts.  But, there is a good reason, and new blog post, with a topic I did not anticipate writing about so soon that came from this long wait.

I am currently in the process of moving to a new town with my parents and siblings.  To be honest, life has not been easy for the past month and a half.  Moving and my family go together like apple pie and ice cream.  I moved around quite a few times in my life, including twice moving from overseas to the United States.  But this move would be different, very different.  For all the times I moved, I was young and do not recall much, except for the first day and night in the new house.  My last move coincidentally enough, was ten years ago this weekend, when oddly enough, my family and I will be settling into our new house.

Again, this move is different than the others.  To start, my parents, sister, brother and I had more time to prepare this new house to our liking prior to moving in.  We were all so excited that we would have an opportunity to fix things up before moving in and thus saving us all some of the headaches of reorganization after all the furniture arrived.  But, to our surprise, things did not work out as we planned. The house, you see, was different.  The new house is made out of brick on the outside with cement filled walls on the inside.  This doesn’t sound so bad, one may think, but to the skilled builder/contractor, concrete walls pose hard and long work.

So for these six weeks, my family and I shuffled back and forth from the two  homes packing, painting, sanding, spackling and overseeing repairs in the new home .  A few weeks ago, I was exchanging thoughts with my uncle online, who also travels frequently on business.  We spoke about life and how moving around and living out of bags and suitcases was not easy.  And then, it hit me.  I reminded myself and my uncle of the following hadith (hadith are transmissions on the authority of the Prophet, his deeds, sayings, tacit approval, or description of his sifaat (features) meaning his physical appearance. However, physical appearance of the Prophet is not included in the definition used by the Islamic jurists).  (Source:

On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with them both), he relates that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) once held my shoulders and said:

“Live in this world as (if you are) a wayfarer (traveler) or a stranger.” And Abdullah ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with them both) used to say: “If you live ’til night, then do not wait for the next day (i.e. do not have hopes that you will live to the next day), and if you wake up in the morning do not have hope that you will live till the night. And take (advantage) from your health before your sickness and take advantage of your life before your death (i.e. do every possible obedience in your life before death comes to you for then no deeds can be performed.)” [Bukhari and Tirmidhi]

My uncle agreed; we were living this very hadith.  It made perfect sense.  Every Wednesday night, I found myself packing a gym bag with three nights and days’ worth of clothes, alarm clock, sleeping bag…well, you get the picture.  It wasn’t like I knew where I would be every Thursday night either.  Some nights I had to come back to the old house and some nights I would sleep in the house.  This was indeed exciting at times, but also challenging.

Then again, that’s the point;  to truly live as a traveler or stranger in this universe, we can never be too sure where we are going to be when the next minute or hour hand strikes.  For that reason, we need to seriously reconcile our deeds continuously.  We can all start by asking ourselves what we did before going to sleep on any given day, good and bad.  Then, we need to ask ourselves how we can improve upon the bad and maintain and even increase the good.

I am a man of routine, but life is anything but a routine.  Life changes, constantly.  If you don’t believe me, look at the weather; every day, the forecast calls for a different temperature, level of humidity, precipitation level, barometric level, etc.  So the main point of this hadith is that we live as travelers; people who do not know if they will live until night fall and if they do, they do not know if they will awake in the morning.  So have your bag (of deeds- as many good deeds as possible and as few bad deeds as possible) packed and be ready to move, for you and I, need to continually live as travelers.