Ramadan 29: Individual … Society … Humanity

As we say goodbye to Ramadan 2011, we wanted to express how blessed and humbled we feel that god gave us the strength and the opportunity to share our sincere thoughts with you.

To us, and as we reflected on all posts, Ramadan 2011 was about …

individual motivation and improvement,

to reach societal elevation and advancement,

to instill compassion, kindness and justice in all of humanity.

Eid Mubarak to all of you and until next time inshallah (god willing), we leave you with this thought:

“Do not rejoice the pain and suffering of others, no matter what the form or the case may be, for life is a circle and you never know the dice you will be dealt with. Instead, do your best, support fairness and justice, and depend on the almighty who does not forget.”

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Ramadan 28: In All Languages of the World

Pray as if everything depended on God, and work as if everything depended upon man. – Francis J. Spellman

There are three different perspectives on prayer. Those who believe that prayer alone should be able to get you where you want to be, those who believe that only work and action gets one to where they want to be, and those who believe in the power of prayer and power of self to make dreams come true; we are of this view.

We Need Support

We don’t believe that we are meant to be alone in our struggles and pressures in life especially when fulfilling our dreams and aspirations. Friends and family may support but at some point, they also have their own struggles and pressures.

We Deserve Support

Our parents are meant to, by nature, support us when we are young / old, coasting / struggling, happy / sad, and as descendents of Adam (pbuh) who was created by god, we believe that allah is here to support us in all things ranging from the food we eat to the companies we want to build to the vacations we want to take and to the inspiration and help we need to give others etc…

We Will Get Support

Does god, who is (as extracted from his 99 holy names) the … compassionate, merciful, sovereign (king of all kings), almighty, creator, all-giving, all-knowing, all-hearing, all-seeing, just/fair, generous, wise, loving, powerful, gentle, self-sufficient, etc… not give support to those he created? That doesn’t sound logical does it?

As we embark on the last night or two of this blessed month, we ask god to accept all our prayers and to guide those who haven’t approached god yet, to do so in these blessed hours … in all languages of the world.

Ramadan 27: ‘Life Risk Management’

Islamic ‘Life Risk management’ proverbs from the Prophet pbuh

Make the most of “your health before your sickness.”

Make the most of “your free time before you become busy.”

Make the most of “your wealth before you become poor.”

Make the most of “your youth before you become old.”

 

May god bless us and you with the tools and awareness to use our health, time, wealth and energy to do good and reap benefits of our short and precious lives.

Ramadan 26: Salaam!

The most miserly of people are those who are stingy with their salaams (i.e., do not greet others). – Islamic Proverb by the Prophet PBUH

Websters dictionary defines stingy as … “being unwilling or showing unwillingness to share with others. It implies a lack of generosity, suggests keeping a tight grip on one’s money and possessions and spending the very smallest amount possible”

Look at the same definition from an emotional perspective … stingy people are those who are unwilling or show unwillingness to share feelings with others. They are reluctant to praise or empathise with people and usually need people to measure up to certain expectations before they express approval for them. They are usually critical of others and what others say and do not share their true thoughts. Unfortunately, they are often associated with hypocrisy and arrogance when they may not actually be that way.

Emotional stinginess breaks bonds of sisterhood, brotherhood and community … it breaks the ties of love and kinship and starts to build animosity amongst people. And so we reflected on the proverb above and thought to ourselves, what if we all greeted each other irrespective if we knew each other or not? What would happen to our communities?

We ask allah on this holy night to bless us all with good manners and confidence to express what we feel, respect others by responding to their questions and greetings, and to empathise with people no matter what religion or culture they belong to.

Ramadan 25: Just Believe

The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty, therefore to use it, not to misuse it.- Plutarch

We believe, and please do correct us if we are mistaken, that all three holy books mention the fact that life is short. Life in the quran is described as a ‘game’ limited in time and very short yet the afterlife one of eternity. The prophet described living life on earth as a very short break taken under a tree while on a very long eternal road. People, in their retirement years also often talk about how life is short … ‘before we knew it, we were retiring’.

Whether it is our relationships, our work, or tribulations, we must always remember that all does pass and the only thing we can do is control how we respond to each and what actions we take to be happy and thankful for what god has given us. Yes, it is difficult to remember that life is short during a tribulation, but as we said throughout this holy month, we can seek good friends to remind us, we can seek god’s relief, we can focus on other perspectives and more importantly, truly believe that it is in our best interests.

Ramadan 24: Who will?

We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path. – Paulo Coelho

How many times have we caught ourselves judging others so quickly we end up feeling extremely bad afterwards? We personally have … and we learned quite a big lesson from it.

People always assume that those who walk around with frowns on their face are simply angry people. Or those who take their kids with them everywhere are disorganised and lazy. Or those who look sad all the time are ungrateful. Or those who bully others or are mean to them are simply stuck up. The list goes on …

We learned over time that although some people are simply angry, lazy, ungrateful and stuck up, the majority of them simply have worries and circumstances that we don’t know about. Worries that take quite a heavy toll on people and some more than others. So instead of judging, maybe we should consider that there could be a reason behind their behaviour that is beyond ours. As this thought eludes to, we will never know  EXACTLY what and how people feel … all we will ever know is how WE feel and how WE see people.

If we don’t support each other and give each other a break, who will?

Ramadan 23: Women Equality based on Happiness?

In their (women) quest for rights they have naturally placed emphasis on their wrongs rather than their achievements and possessions, and have retold history as a story of their long martyrdom. – Mary Ritter Beard

We always thought to ourselves, if women want equality, why did they not seek equality on their own terms? Why did they not seek equality based on their own set of strengths and natural characteristics? Why is it that they fought for equality through the eyes of ‘men’ and what ‘men’ would measure as success? Yes, the definition of success for men is NOT the same as the definition of success for women, and vice versa.

Women, generally speaking, are naturally giving, analytical, loving, organised, outspoken, inquisitive, comforting, spiritual, devoted and social ‘fixers and changers’. What we found is that once women are put in a situation or has built up expectations that force them to be something other than their natural selves, they eventually get over-stressed and depressed negatively impacting their health, home, environment, and eventually, the whole of society.

Having said that, women have a good story to tell and in fact, they are the key ingredient for a stable and happy society. So, we were thinking out loud, instead of focusing on women employment/involvement gaps in university programs, industries, CEO jobs and governance boards, etc… why wouldn’t we look at women rights from a ‘happiness’ perspective? What would make women happy, fulfilled, with a variety of options in order to be leaders on their own terms in parallel to ensuring equal opportunity for all?

What if women designed their own set of success criteria?

Ramadan 22: Reflections

I don’t try to imagine a God; it suffices to stand in awe of the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it. – Albert Einstein quotes

As we go on in our busy lives we rarely stop and look ‘up’ at the world around us to see that someone supreme and powerful created a world in such equilibrium and beauty yet can probably stop it all in a blink of an eye.

We watched a few episodes of a documentary recently called ‘Through the Wormhole’. It is one of those really scientific ones but what is unique about it is that it uses different scientific questions to deduce whether or not there is a god, fully analytical and using none of the holy books, scriptures, priests, rabbis or scholars. The results were without question affirmative, yes, there is a god or a powerful being because our universe is so calibrated, there is absolutely no way that this can happen spontaneously or out of entropy, i.e. disorder.

Here are a few thoughtful reflections we extracted from the holy book we thought we would share with you on this blessed night:

  1. The creation of the heavens (skies) and the earth both stable in position
  2. The cycle of night and day
  3. The seas which move large ships from one end of the earth to another
  4. The rain which gives life (vegetables, fruits and grass) to the earth after lifelessness
  5. The wide variety of moving creatures, animals and insects
  6. Winds which can come and go without reason and without warning
  7. The stars, which were initially used as guidance at sea and land during the night
  8. Wives and husbands who people share their living with and love even though they are strangers
  9. The natural cycle of rest during the night and work during the day
  10. Natural and fluid exchange between the sun and the moon without touching one another
  11. Strong, large mountains and flowing rivers
  12. Fruits that vary from sweet to sour, full of color to without color, small to large
  13. Vines, palm trees and corn fields which are all different yet need the same food to grow, i.e. water
  14. Different colors of the earth from desert to greenery
  15. Cattle which between blood and excretions produce pure milk
  16. Palm trees and grapes that produce both delicious treats and intoxicants, i.e. alcohol
  17. Birds that freely glide across the skies without anyone controlling them and telling them where to find food
(1-6) Chapter of Al Baqarah
(7,8) CHapter of Al An’am
(9) Chapter of Yunus
(10 – 13) Chapter of Ra’ad
(14 – 17) Chapter of Al Nahel

 

Ramadan 21: Happiness

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. – Mahatma Gandhi

The thought today summarises humility, confidence, sincerity, honesty and transparency in our lives. Interestingly, we found that this thought not only applies to those who do ‘good’, but also to those who don’t.

It seems that the source of the happiness associated with this thought is in the fact that one would have nothing to hide, no worries about what was said or not, done or not, for they are an open book. Some believe that this is a weakness, but isn’t the weakness not having the confidence to be who we are inside and outside, walking the talk and standing firm on our values? For those who believe one should not be so transparent, we are not talking about being open about one’s plans, needs and wants…we are referring to character and behaviour.

We mentioned at the beginning that this would also apply in the opposite sense, as in, happiness is also present in those who do ‘bad’, how? What they think, say and do all point in the same direction … actually, we wonder, who is happier? One who is bad ‘in harmony’ or one who is good ‘in hypocrisy’?

No one can judge where we stand except ourselves, so we ask allah to help us all be good ‘in harmony’.

Ramadan 20: Keeping the Line Open

If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting? ~Stephen Levine

We have relationships at different levels. We have spouses, children, family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and then there are those who are long-lost.

It is those ‘lost’ and ‘broken’ relationships that matter in life though since one cannot truly believe and be a good person if they are happy to let broken relationships go on for long, and lucky is the one who starts first.

The truth of the matter is that broken relationships rarely happen consciously. They usually start from an argument or a misunderstanding, then two people do not talk for a week, then a month, then a year and before we know it, ten or more years go by making it hard to mend any relationships. However, what we found is that these relationships don’t need to be ‘mended’, they simply need to be reconnected, as in, one just needs to keep the line of communication open even if two people do not want to go back to how their relationship was prior to that.

We found that Ramadan and the two Eids are perfect opportunities for people to ensure that all relationships continue to have an open line … no need to mend anything, it takes just one ‘hello’ to mend hearts and then let time and god do the rest even if the ‘hello’ has to be done more than once, like everything else, one must keep trying.