Ramadan 19: It is just the beginning

Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can. – Lowell Thomas

Do every act of your life as if it were your last. – Marcus Aurelius

It is NOT over, it is just beginning.

The first 20 days of Ramadan may be physically longer, but the last 10 days are heavier and more worthy with ‘lailut ul-qadr’. Contrary to what people believe, this day is unknown and we were guided to seek it during the last 10 nights with consistency and determination seeking god’s forgiveness, love and blessings.

In the beginning of Ramadan, we welcomed Ramadan and reduced ‘life’ commitments …  in the last ten days, life becomes Ramadan: prayer, bringing joy to others, charity, loving parents, connecting with relatives, mending broken relationships, and anything else that can bring us closer to what the rasool embodied without forgetting to ask for how we would like to see our lives in the upcoming year.

We ask allah to bless us and you with ‘the night of power’ along with the strength, determination and perseverance to do the best we can in these last 10 days. Our actual capabilities surpass the level we think we are at.

Advertisements

Ramadan 18: From the Bottom Up

Verily, We will not change the destiny of a people until they begin to change themselves. – Surah Al-Ra’ad

Does change come from the top down or from the bottom up?

Today’s thought starts from a simple statement from the blessed quran that makes things VERY clear … to change the state of being as a society is an individual process before society, i.e. the bottom up. Actually, this can be applied to any group / individual setting: company / employee, family / relative, team / member, etc…

Don’t get us wrong, we do not advocate that one ignore the external environment. In fact, we believe that one should always look and study the external environment and identify ways to improve it while in parallel, looking within ourselves for improvement for two reasons, A) be the improvement we want to see collectively in our environments, and, B) prepare ourselves for when change in the external environment does take place.

A sidenote however is that this does not only apply in the positive sense, it applies in the negative sense as well. We have heard of organisations once considered ‘happy and effective’ turn a year or two down the road into ‘damaging and beaurucratic’ organisations primarily driven by employees; their attitudes, their values, their ethics and capabilities.

Think about your experiences at the different group / individual levels, have you seen external improvement without individual improvement?

Ramadan 17: What is Right?

God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless. – Chester W. Nimitz

We wondered today about why some refuse to defend what is right or at least acknowledge it? We concluded that it was due to fear, fear of isolation, poverty, etc… ironically, history has shown that after much difficulty and tribulation, those who stick to the truth and to what is right are blessed with strength, love from others and more importantly, love from god.

In our thought process, what we found to be more difficult was knowing what is right to begin with. This, we have found, is becoming more difficult as we are surrounded by lots of “in-betweens”. So we asked, how would we know? We believe gut feel could be one of them. Yes, gut feel. Human beings naturally have this ability to ‘smell’ something that is not right. So we wonder, maybe we should listen to our gut, do research to gain knowledge, and then stay firm.

Another matter that came up was that we cannot stick to what is ‘right’ unless we witness what is wrong, or we are close to it, or have access to information about it since we could mistakenly judge matters and do more harm than good.

Finally, we found that sticking for what is right is best done through consistency, calmness and open-mindedness. Yes, calmness is very important as it is one of the ways to persevere and remain patient until the truth wins. So ultimately, sticking to what is right involves peace within one’s self.

Ramadan 16: Kindness or Charity?

A kind speech and forgiveness is better than alms followed by injury. – Islamic Proverb

To us, this summed up the concept of good manners. Kindness and forgiveness are more important than charity, but if one wanted to embody all good manners, they would follow the above with charity without injuring others either psychologically or physically.

We don’t believe that good manners are easy to attain in every single situation without god’s help and so, we ask allah to grant us the patience and the foresight to be able to give priority to kind speech and forgiveness over anger and jealousy. We also ask god to grant us the ability to give charity to emphasize our good manners seeking the pleasure of god and not of people for as the prophet pbuh said, those with good manners are the ones that enter paradise first.

Ramadan 15: The Rest Shall Follow

When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends. – Japanese Proverb

Today marks the middle of our special month that seems, like the rest of our days, to pass so quickly that we will barely remember them. Fact: they make up 8.3% of our whole year, not much eh? 

We are all different and no one truly knows another unless, as one of the prophet’s companions once said, they travelled with them, lent them money, or were neighbors. Barring these things, we found that one of the other possible ways we can reflect on who we or others are is through our or their friends. How, you may ask?

Well, let’s think about it for a bit, if one hung around people who are materialistic, arrogant and phony, can we not assume that that person is like that as well? Actually, we don’t, but we can with a twist. We can believe two things: one – they are the same as them and two – they may not be like them and hate that behaviour but are driven, at that moment, by the same underlying principles. Take another example, you hang around people who are spiritual, kind, generous and successful, we can then believe two things: one – you are the same as them and two – you are not the same as them but are driven, at that moment, by the same underlying good principles. Notice that we say and, since unless we travel with them, lend them money or be their neighbor, we will never know 100%, and even then, we cannot judge that they will never change.

We ask allah to give us the strength to ‘see’ ourselves through our friends and reflect on where we stand … we either like what we see and thank god for it or we don’t, and take action to change who we are and the rest shall follow.

Ramadan 14: T-I-M-E

“Kids spell love T-I-M-E.” – John Crudele

We decided to dedicate today’s thought to the parents of yesterday, the parents of today and the parents of tomorrow.

Children are a blessing from god and yes, they are needy, over-indulging and stressful … most of the time … but they are our children who we all hope will be in our lives when we get older.

These children are the adults of tomorrow and if we looked at them in a way that they are complete human beings whose lives start from day 1 and not from year 7 or later, we might love them for their personalities before loving them as simply our children. Remember, we are not responsible for their fate, we are responsible for our actions when they are with us.

After much research, we found that the number one regret that parents have when it came to their kids is wishing they spent more time with them, not saying no to building the small puzzle with them or not listening to something that they had to say. 

We ask allah to grant us and you children who grow up to be humble, honest, fair and strong leaders not just for our communities but for the world.

Ramadan 13:We Might Give it a Try, Will You?

Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing in it. – Jesse Owens (1913-1980); American track and field athlete

Sometimes, we just have to fool ourselves … ok, not in that sense, but what if we chose to keep the good and throw the bad? What if we chose to see the possibility and not the impossibility? What if we chose the encouraging over the discouraging and live life as if everything around us … is positive?

We know what you are thinking, this is just theory … and yes, it is so far as we write this post, but what if we tried? What if we truly believed that every single person on this earth has good intentions even when they do bad things? It is like a king who decides to lock all his treasures away from people … why? Because he had a good intention to keep this for his family. Good intention … of course bad for the people, but that is besides our point today.

What if we truly kept looking for the good things and left the bad things? People are not perfect, societies are not perfect, who / what is??? What if when we see or hear of the bad, we just let it go, keep in mind for future ‘reference’ but just ignore it, not mention it and when we see or experience something good, we talk about it and share it?

Having said that, we are not saying to let go of justice and fairness … we are talking about things that are out of our control, can we look at the good and leave the bad? Difficult but is it possible? We might give it a try, will you? 

 

 

Ramadan 12: Logic, Emotion and Analysis

A man only becomes wise when he begins to calculate the approximate depth of his ignorance. -Gian Carlo Menotti

We always believed that wisdom is not something one acquires through schooling, status, or age. How many times have we met young people who are more wise than those who are older? Don’t get us wrong, those who are older have higher chances to be wise given their experiences in life, but it is not the only determinant of wisdom. We believe that wisdom is something greater than that.

Wisdom to us is when one applies logic to understand, emotion to see multiple perspectives and analysis to identify answers to questions asked, observations made or reflections meditated. Specifically in Ramadan, wisdom is in our search for answers related to our beliefs, our prayers, our reflections and our present day withholding our own judgements and conclusions until we are presented with all the facts, not from here say, but from direct sources or as witnesses. 

We ask allah to grant us the wisdom to recognise our ignorance and weaknesses, recognise that we will never  know everything, and that being wise is a great gift from god.

 

 

Ramadan 11: Thanks

As we reflect on our and other people’s lives, we realise an important observation, the more we are thankful, the closer we get to relief, or at least we feel like we do. The less we are thankful, the tougher the challenges get to a point of forcing us to be thankful because that would be the only thing we have left to do.

To be thankful is to try to count our blessings and find that we can’t count even half of them … to be thankful is to realise that everything that happens, even if perceived to be bad, is good … to be thankful is to realise that the same blessings and talents we use to be ‘good people in this world’, could otherwise be used to hurt others. Take a talented accountant for example, they could be doing an excellent job at keeping the accounts up to date to monitor cash flows and boost transparency, but that same accountant could be using the same talent to innovatively hide information to mislead investors, shareholders or to even steal money. Could you imagine using a ‘good’ blessing or talent for something ‘bad’ for ourselves? For those around us?

As the first third of Ramadan completes its journey with us, we wanted to express our thanks to god for allowing us to witness Ramadan thus far and to have given us the ability to connect with you on this blog in order to learn and uplift our souls together.

Welcome to the second third of Ramadan 2011, the third of forgiveness.

Ramadan 10: The Givers of Energy

Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great. – Mark Twain

A question that has puzzled many for so many years is why some people we meet leave us feeling drained where others leave us feeling energetic and strong? The Celestine Prophecies explain this to be the exchange of energies … some people take energy, while others give energy away. Those who give us energy are sometimes the only answer and solution during times of personal hardships, challenges and tribulations. Those who give us energy are our true friends, sisters and brothers.

People always mention more money, more time, more things, more food, more, more and more … but the one ‘more’ that people seldom mention, is more TRUE friends. These true friends tell you why you can and not why you cannot, these true friends make you feel anything is possible and that if anything goes wrong, they are there to hold you, these true friends bring you closer to god.

We find that true friends are rare to find and from our experience, they do not exceed a handful. However, when they are found, they are like the sun, difficult to live without and when they are not found, they are like water, a commodity difficult to live without as well.

We ask allah in this Ramadan to bless our friends wherever they are, and bless us with their presence and kindness. We also ask that god blesses those without … generous givers of energy.