20 Ramadan 2012: All Praise

There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever. – Mahatma Gandhi

Our gut feel told us that in order to achieve our objective and optimize our time before the end of Ramadan to uncover the secrets to sustainable inner peace, we needed to cover a key point: faith.

We personally believe that faith is essential to inner peace. However, our main point is not that it is essential, it is that the quality of faith is what is important. You see, similar to our post about purpose in life, we all have faith whether we readily recognize it or not. Why? It is our nature to be inquisitive and to want to ‘rely’ for confidence, stability and direction.

Faith is ultimately trust and/or reliance on someone or something that spans across all areas in our lives. Some have faith in god, and some, have faith in human logic, a person (dead or alive), passion (likes/enjoyment/love), empiricism, chance, an animal (pet or not), bad morals (cheating, stealing, lying), etc… So the key is that if one is going to believe and rely on something anyway, it might as well be something worth it and someone or something that benefits, elevates and improves all aspects of our lives. What does that mean? It must give us freedom from dependency on anything or anyone that can change or die.

The reality is that:

  • we don’t know when we can conceive (how many couples can’t conceive due to ‘no scientific reason’)
  • we are born from a foetus that is 1.5 g and an inch long (a paper clip?!#@)
  • we (plants / animals / people) die on a day and/or time unknown to us (even in cases of Euthanasia)
  • everything changes around us and nothing is constant, e.g. plants, animals, universe
  • natural disasters occur that we can neither predict nor prevent (scientists still maintain that earthquake prediction is inherently impossible*)

and someone who is all-powerful and knowledgeable, does.

So ultimately, if we don’t see him, we know he exists and we seek during these last few days the secrets to sustainable inner peace on the basis of an unchanging, powerful, knowledgeable god who has provided us with the tools and knowledge necessary to make it the best and most peaceful life we can have.

 

 

We apologize for the length of today’s post but referring to god is something that cannot be done in a simple post and with that, we know that we have not done justice and we seek forgiveness for anything we might have said wrong.
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthquake_prediction (accessed Aug 9, 2012)
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19 Ramadan 2012: Pieces of the Puzzle

We live in a very tense society. We are pulled apart … and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together … I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude. – Helen Hayes

We simply can’t believe that it is time for the last most blessed days of the month of Ramadan!

These upcoming days are known to be as quite days due to solitude taken up by a lot of people. Blessings would continue to surround us while we seek mercy, forgiveness, and salvation from challenges and tribulations in life and the hereafter and more importantly, seek out the night of fate and set the foundations for what our lives might look like in the upcoming year. May these days be blessed and may we consciously ask ourselves throughout, can it (this material need) wait?

Reflection, worship and silence that comes with solitude is a powerful thing. Solitude that can only bring further clarity to our search for inner peace putting us in touch with deep feelings and thoughts that may otherwise, go unnoticed. Feelings and thoughts highlighting ‘purpose-less’ action and movement in life that give us the illusion that we are doing well and ‘on track’ but that in fact we are not.

Raising the bar in these last days is elevation for our hearts, minds and souls and necessary nutrients for the upcoming year … we wish you and ourselves success in the last third of Ramadan 2012 as we seek out the final key pieces to the puzzle of sustainable inner peace.

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18 Ramadan 2012: Life Starts …

For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be. – John Connolly

… at birth, no pun intended of course!

There is a small link between today’s post and yesterday’s in respect to how a friend can emerge as a mentor / coach. A friend of ours said: ‘When I thought back in my life I always saw that I would eventually be involved with xxx’. That immediately rang a bell in our head as we discover with you the way to sustainable inner peace. Not that we didn’t hear such statements before, but we believe that words are just like signs, they emerge when they are most needed or relevant.

The bottom-line is that statements like life starts after college, or life starts at 30, or life starts at 50, are simply not true. Life starts when we are born, and the reality is that the average life span on earth is 71 years*, and to say that life starts any time after we are born is depreciating and disconnecting a life that is closely linked and connected … from day 1.

So we ask on this blessed night, let us re-connect (narrow down) our lives again and think back as far as we can remember, what did we like to do? What did we want to do when we grow up? Who did we like to be around? What were our words like? However, instead of focusing on the functions, skills, qualities or “titles”, may be we should search for a sphere (broad) we were naturally inclined to. Was it the sphere of people? Was it the sphere of improvement? Was it the sphere of happiness? Was it the sphere of helping others? Was it the sphere of reflection? Was it the sphere of communication? Was it the sphere of discovery?

May god bless us all with clarity in order to identify how best we can achieve our life purpose within our ‘sphere of comfort’ using the skills and talents that we have.

* (UN Stat Division, Dec 2011)
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17 Ramadan 2012: Teach Me

Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher. – Japanese Proverb

With a mentor, inner peace is a reality. Without a mentor, one feels alone with no one to turn to as a supportive, independent yet critical presence that uplifts and motivates.

There are many different kinds of mentors or coaches. First of all, some may be alive and some not. Yes … they may not be with us today but have left behind knowledge that gives us the right support we seek. Secondly, mentors may be consciously chosen or naturally occurring as in the case of friends or colleagues who touch our hearts and give us advice that is golden. Thirdly, one mentor cannot do it all, instead, mentors cover specific spheres in one’s life based on their experiences. Finally, and most importantly, all (both mentor and mentee) must have an intention that is nothing but to teach and learn respectively.

As we write this post, we wanted to acknowledge our Prophet Mohammad PBUH and all other Prophets including Abraham, Jesus, and Moses, for being awesome mentors through their stories. We also wanted to acknowledge all other teachers and mentors who have given us wise, critical and/or harsh words that set us straight on the path to sustainable inner peace.

The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. – Alvin Toffler

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction. – John C. Crosby

Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight. – Anonymous

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16 Ramadan 2012: Why and What

Know that although in the eternal scheme of things you are small, you are also unique and irreplaceable, as are all your fellow humans everywhere in the world. – Margaret Laurence

On the 2nd of Ramadan, we talked about sustainable inner peace being the straight-line that one maintains or returns to throughout life’s ups and downs. We then, on the 7th of Ramadan, spoke about how each of us has a life purpose, whether we purposely set it or not, and we called on consciously making it a ‘good one’, i.e. one worth pursuing.

Today, we see that life purpose is what affirms or uncovers the straight line we mention above, i.e. inner peace. This is the case because one cannot achieve inner peace or a ‘base’ without a frame of reference that is independent, clear, focused and helps synergise and answer the why, what, where, when and how in our lives.

Given that we accept this concept, what could a good life purpose then be? We start with some success criteria, namely:

  1. Brings the heart / gut feel comfort
  2. Clear, rational and aligns with life around us
  3. Seen as ‘good’ or leading to goodness for both ourselves and others
  4. Elegant and befitting to us as rational and intelligent creatures
  5. Balanced and central
  6. Easy to identify possible outcomes and consequences
  7. Independent from acceptance from any other ‘changing’ creation, i.e. not dependent on acceptance from other people who change, live and die
  8. Leads to success and victory in all possible definitions of life

So in essence, we are not specifying what that life purpose should be, but what we are here to say is that we need to accept the need for one for inner peace. We then need to identify what our current ‘subconscious’ purpose is and assess it against success criteria. More importantly, one must take the time to identify it through eloquent knowledge knowledge knowledge.

We ask god on this blessed night to bless us all with a clear life purpose that leads us to victory in both life and life hereafter, i.e. to worship god through knowledge that clarifies life and provides tools that helps us deal with life’s ups and downs to eventually lead us to eternal peace.

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15 Ramadan 2012: Gold

Renounce the world and Allah (god) will love you, and renounce what people possess and people will love you. – Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessings Upon Him)*

Fifteen days since the start of Ramadan 2012 and our search for sustainable inner peace continues.

Let’s admit it, we cannot and do not want to, live in isolation. We live with families, neighbors, colleagues and society in general and it is of natural human disposition to want to be loved by others. However, people dynamics can sway one so far away from inner peace that only isolation could help dissect confusion. Yes, we have discussed people’s kindness, their stories, their positive influence, but there is also a dark side, so we were wondering, how could we win both life and life hereafter while at the same time be loved by others? In other words, and in the spirit of the Olympics and London 2012, to win gold?

The quote above was the key to our reflection. The official translation uses the word renounce and we wanted to know more. We found that renounce here would signify a state where one voluntarily gives up or turns away from loving or wanting control of that which is with people either in material possessions or personal traits. In other words, letting go of jealousy and envy. Granted, we are not talking about how to (nor should we want to) be popular and ‘friends’ with everyone for that also leads to confusion and shallow relationships. However, if we didn’t care about what people had, we guess that we wouldn’t care to enter into competition with them, and competition is what creates disharmony and discomfort with both oneself and others.

We ask god on this blessed night to bless us with the satisfaction to compete with our own selves and if we compete with others, compete on the basis of doing good and getting closer to god and accept, after hard work, that which is preordained to us.

* Hadith #31 of Imam An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths. Quote is PBUH’s answer to: “A man came to the prophet and said: “O Messenger of Allah (god), direct me to an act which, if I do it, [will cause] Allah to love me and people to love me.”
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14 Ramadan 2012: Confines of Imagination

Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be. – Samuel Johnson

Most of us make goals or intentions when approaching a significant ‘day’ or ‘period’ of time, such as Ramadan, lent, a birthday, etc…  This all sounds good but a problem arises when one notices that things or matters are not working out in the direction one had hoped or willed, leading to disappointment and potential loss of will. This would apply to prayers more generally as well.

We have experienced and heard of many stories involving such cases all with two key common elements, reflection and thought. Without reflection and thought, one could ruin a chance, a moment or an opportunity to exceed initial intentions. We also found that reflection and thought was necessary to remain positive and to reap the full benefit of ‘diversions’ acknowledging that god, the all-knowing, DOES answer all our calls and prayers just not necessarily the way and when we want … but better.

We ask god to bless us and you with the ability to ‘break’ free from the confines of our own imagination that mask our ability to see diversions in their true form as positive and powerful signs forward.

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13 Ramadan 2012: Marigolds

The best way to find good in thyself is to begin to look for good in others. –Unknown

When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people. –Abraham Joshua Heschel

People continue to amaze us. Sometimes, we forget how lucky we are when people go out of their way for us through small gestures of kindness (whether they do it purposely or not) that one may have forgotten about or never noticed. The impact this has on the heart and the feeling that comes with it is difficult to explain, is it compassion? is it kindness as well? Not sure, it just somehow softens the heart and surrounds it with cheer, like Marigolds in the middle of a garden, and with thanks … thanks to god (first and foremost), thanks to people and thanks to life.

Kindness we find comes in different shapes and forms; it could be a smile or a gift, or it could be a helping hand or simply a ‘feeling’. We also find that unless one is open with themselves and with others, one may miss these moments that bring hearts closer to each other. At the end of the day, we even wonder if there is ever such a thing as naturally born ‘titans’ as we believe we all either have a kind root or have reasons to explain cruelty and usually, it is first cruelty to oneself before cruelty to others. In other words, no person can be cruel unless they are cruel to themselves first either in character or in lack of forgiveness.

On this blessed night, we thank god for his blessing of kindness that we have had entrenched in each of us. We also ask god to bless us with the ability to see kindness in others or at least potential kindness in others which signifies good character that far outstrips our own.

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12 Ramadan 2012: Thin Line … Big Difference

Being responsible and being entrusted are different concepts. One may be responsible but not entrusted, however, one can never be entrusted and not responsible. – Ramadan Living

We have been reflecting on this for a few days now, is there a difference between being responsible and being entrusted? We believe, it is a yes.

We felt that for sustainable inner peace, one must look at responsibilities and identify those that weigh us down and seek ways to eliminate them or reduce their impact on our time and energy. However, there was a distinct set of responsibilities that could neither be eliminated nor changed, a set that was ‘entrusted’ to us by god. These things being under our care, to be nurtured or utilized and subsequently being responsible for them in the hereafter. Hence, the only thing we could do is to understand this set as ‘high priority’ seeking the necessary tools to do the best we can in the best way possible.

*Potential Set* God gives us:

  • talent to perfect and share with the world and be questioned on how we used it to …
  • children to raise and let them go into the world and be questioned on values we taught them to …
  • wealth to acquire and utilize in the world and be questioned on how we optimized our wealth to …
  • parents to depend on and be grateful for and be questioned on how we humbly …
  • health to move our bodies and be questioned on how we took action to …
  • hearts to have awareness of self and others and be questioned on how we purified it to …

better the world for humanity and help spread the truth.

We ask god in this Ramadan, to bless us with the ability to patiently fulfill our responsibilities on those things we are entrusted with to the best of our abilities.

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11 Ramadan 2012: In All Shades and Colors

You can’t get rid of poverty by giving people money. – P.J. O’Rourke

Charity is a big part of Ramadan and we all know that eating while knowing that a fellow neighbor or person is hungry is a shameful thing. As we look at charity and Zakat (obligatory charity), we can’t help but think about those who cannot eat, or do not know where they will live the next day, or if they will have to send their kids off to beg on the streets just to feed their younger sisters or brothers … what is unbelievable is that after all the advancements in Technology and Social Innovation, poverty remains a serious and complex problem.

On another note, what we really liked about this quote is that it could refer to all sorts of poverty, not just of food, water and shelter, such as lack of love, lack of compassion, lack of humility, etc…basically, lack of positive character virtues or surroundings. Our Prophet (Peace and Blessings Upon Him) has a saying narrated by Abu Hurairah, “The poor of my people would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers and fasts and Zakat but since he hurled abuses upon others, brought calumny against others, unlawfully consumed the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and beat others, his virtues would be credited to the accounts of others (who suffered at his hands) …” [Sahih Muslim]

We ask god on this day to make us those beloved to him by being the greatest benefit to other people in all shades and colors of poverty.

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