10 Ramadan 2012: Taking it as it is

Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.

There are two ways of being happy: We must either diminish our wants or augment our means – either may do – the result is the same and it is for each man to decide for himself and to do that which happens to be easier.

– Benjamin Franklin

Custard Apple

When we examine our life, we see that there are three sources for the need for “goods/services/desires”: innate, societal, and strategic.

Thinkers have often categorized this by needs and wants. From our purpose focused view, we categorize them by sources where needs often cross all three. Examples we can think of are money, status, children, respect, food, and education, which cover at least 80% of our needs. We naturally need money to survive, but we also need money to entertain and give charity, and money to help us achieve our goals and dreams. We naturally seek status as part of our human nature, but we also need status to fulfill a social role, and status to help us exploit life opportunities … and the same goes for others.

Persimmons

Like fruit however, what is critical is to identify if these needs are good for us in the life and life hereafter and hence, how much priority and dedication should be given to each. In other words, some fruit look good on the outside and don’t taste as such (Unripened Persimmons) and some do not look so good, yet are absolutely delicious (Custard Apple). How we analyse needs as such is challenging and needs a clear life purpose. We don’t believe that there is a magic trick or way to do that as we go through life ourselves, however, what we can do is follow god’s advice to be patient, take the best means out there and to take that which befalls us as it is, not necessarily good and not necessarily bad.

We ask god, as we enter into the second third of Ramadan, the third of Forgiveness, to forgive us for all the times that we have not accepted his wisdom when faced with choosing what is good and what is bad for us.

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9 Ramadan 2012: Hammer Away

Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working. – Unknown 

… it’s not easy, we admit it but we must also admit that it is the only way. When it seems like we have tried every way to accomplish a goal or find an out to a tough situation or we simply can’t “breathe” anymore, we must try to find the small speck of hope in our hearts that will move us forward and help keep us hammering away until, maybe … just maybe, it is the right nail that will keep us elevated.

Thankfully, we believe that our lives are logical. As we face challenges and situations that need decisions, we believe that there is only one tool available, reliance on god which is defined as ‘consistently taking the necessary and available steps to achieve a goal or resolve an issue and subsequently, putting trust in god and putting affairs in his hands for the outcome’. We are thankful for it because otherwise, we may continue to feel down and lazy blaming destiny without taking any steps or we would take on unnecessary personal blame and responsibility for an outcome that does not immediately resolve an issue.

We dedicate this blog for both of us to set a vision and keep going, keep pressing and keep our chin up for we never know when all things will fit in place and we never know what great times are awaiting us. This is true and this is real and we leave you with this …

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. – Calvin Coolidge

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8 Ramadan 2012: Neverneverending

Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short. – Adam Hochschild

Distracting distractions distracting a distracting life … this is what came to our mind to truly reflect our days today, many call it “life”, really?

We find ourselves surrounded by needs, requirements, status updates, necessaries, news, etiquettes, events, shows, tags, and the list goes on. There is then two parts to this story, a part where these “surroundings” make us perceive that we are progressing well in life and another part where these “surroundings” seem to never end and make us feel like we are lost and overwhelmed. In fact we even wonder if there is a relationship between the amount of distractions and material possessions/actions/drivers we have, such that in order to minimize distractions, one must minimize materialism.

Our guess is that in both cases, the only way to know is by reflecting against, a good, well worth it life purpose and with too many distractions, sustainable inner peace becomes even more of a challenge. We ask god, on this blessed night, to bless us with forgiveness and self-forgiveness, remembrance, a steady heart and a will to elevate as we approach the end of the first third of mercy in Ramadan.

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7 Ramadan 2012: What is it

A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder. – Thomas Carlyle

 

Would you say it is possible to live a life without purpose? Some say yes, especially those who perceive others to be lazy, carefree, rebellious, hesitant and/or unsure.

We believe that a purpose may not be clear or known, but that no one can live a life without purpose for, as in the quote above, one would not move anywhere and clearly … we all seem to be moving somewhere.

We believe that purpose in life is dependent on purpose assumed in all daily actions. Each trip we take, every phone conversation we have, every friendship we keep, every meal we eat, every email or FB post we send, every piece of clothing we buy or wear, etc… is basically a signpost indicating what our current life purpose is. For example, if at the root of it all, one eats to survive, works to survive, exercises to survive … then their overall life purpose is to survive. Another example, if one gives charity because it is highly respected by others, and dresses nicely because it impresses others, and exercises to look better than others … then their overall life purpose is to get approval from others. Try it yourselves and you will find that the most common ‘root’ purpose in your daily actions is ultimately, your overall purpose.

Our point? Let’s make it a good one for our lives and lives-hereafter! (Stay tuned for a future post about discovering together what it may be!)

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6 Ramadan 2012: Perhaps it is for the Best

When all’s said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So  it’s not so much which road you take, as how you take it. – Charles de Lint

Today we were reminded of a very important aspect of inner peace, which is to accept and be thankful for what is ordained. We are talking about plans that change, outcomes that are not as expected, or situations we least expect.

We found that it is harder to fight destiny than it is to accept it and believing that there is someone out there who takes care of our best interests brings along with it calmness and relaxation better than any “spa” can give. We are not saying that one should not have goals or dreams or plans, however, once these things are in place and each step is taken with full determination and clear strategy, one must believe that whatever the outcome, it is the best outcome in that situation which is linked to some other outcome or matter later on in one’s life or hereafter that is unimaginably more worthy than the task at hand or that which is desired.

We ask god to help us focus and see every situation to be the best situation that we are in and always think of “la3alo khair” … “لعله خير” … “perhaps it is for the best” … in all situations we face and plans that change.

One last word, check out our latest addition to our “inspiration” list … they too, had plans change leading them to the setup of initiatives that they never imagined they would run one day.

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5 Ramadan 2012: It’s all about Stories

Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact. — Robert McKee

Today’s post was inspired by “grandma’s and ma’s” out there and the stories they tell. We always enjoyed hearing other people’s life stories, young or old but especially the old or those who happen to have been “exposed” to life (which we can probably have a whole post on what that could mean).

We have found that stories always have a good, a bad and an ugly and not in a single case did we see a story to be worthless. We found that listening to other people’s stories help to reflect, thank, adjust and support.

  • Reflect on the meanings and learnings of those stories;
  • Thank god for the ability to receive them;
  • Adjust our lives or character not necessarily to prevent a potentially predestined matter or tribulation, but to be as strong as we can be when and if faced with one; and
  • Support the owner of the story, whether or not we know them, in prayers to help them ease a pain (in challenge) and protect their blessings (in accomplishment).

We ask god to grant us the ability to listen to others’ stories irrespective of who, what, where and when. We also ask god to identify from them the tools necessary to smooth out the high amplitudes of challenges and tribulations, ensuring that when shared with others, we respect and try to conceal the person whose story we are sharing where benefits outweigh the risks of potential back-biting … If this is not possible, then let us remember that nothing is a coincidence and that at least, we learned from the story.

Let us also not forget that the greatest of stories can be found in the Quran itself, which was written in absolute perfection allowing to reflect differently every single time it is read.

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4 Ramadan 2012: Purity

A clean heart is a free heart – Mother Teresa

Having asked god to help us see the truth irrespective of our ideals in last night’s entry, we couldn’t skip over what we understand is a critical factor in making this happen, a state of purity, that is, in the heart.

As we go through life observing, listening and reflecting, we find that the need to have a pure heart comes up time and time again especially when our state of “inner peace” is shaken. This is because without purity, one cannot put aside ideals and self-built restrictive boundaries that are as a result of unexposed and unresolved “diseases” in our hearts ranging from hypocrisy, arrogance, jealousy, insecurity, etc…

We heard a scholar recently say that the way god answers our prayers when we seek specific character virtues is by exposing us to situations that force us to identify the current state of that virtue in our hearts forcing us to rectify and grow. On this blessed night, within the blessed month’s third of mercy, we ask god to mercifully give us the capability to identify diseases of our hearts, purify them and continue cleansing them until we acquire a set of good virtues.

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3 Ramadan 2012: Beyond

A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work if it isn’t open.” – Frank Zappa

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How true is that? We have read many sentences, seen many people, and observed a multitude of moments, yet we only seem to understand them when we decide that they didn’t have to conform to our own thoughts and ideals. Today, was one of those days.

After observation, the best way to learn is to reflect, decide and implement, and we found that we lose that capability when we are not open to seeing or hearing, when we are adamant that “I am right” or when we are adamant that “people are wrong”, or that “my ideals are THE ideals”. Both our minds and our hearts (for that matter) remain closed and we are not able to see beyond our own restrictive boundaries.

During this blessed month, I ask god to bless us all with openness and the ability to see beyond cliches, beyond headlines, beyond ideals, and fight our natural urge to rebel, for we never know which observation, person, or sentence, will be a source of inner peace and an answer to our prayers.

2 Ramadan 2012: What’s Sustainability again?

 

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. – Confucius

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What do you think of when you hear the word sustainability? Ecological balance? Avoiding depletion or efficient use of resources? We like to take it to a higher, more general, level, which is the ability for something to be sustained … maintained … continued.

We believe that inner peace is not a description used for a specific moment in time, it is something that is attained, acquired and learned, i.e. a character virtue. How often have we felt a moment’s inner peace feeling invincible to then be knocked off by a challenge? a tribulation? All of a sudden, it just feels like that moment of inner peace was only a figment of our imagination.

So, continuing from yesterday’s post, our intention is to seek the answer to sustainable inner peace that perseveres and lasts through the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly that makes us feel aware, confident, and committed. We can’t help but think of differing sound waves which may differ in frequencies and amplitudes but have nodes that are fixed in a straight line, that straight line is, sustainable inner peace.

1 Ramadan 2012: On your mark, get set … BRAKE!

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Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Last year, we started on a path of discovery to understand what Ramadan 2011 was all about, and our reflections highlighted that it was all about:
individual motivation and improvement,
to reach societal elevation and advancement,
to instill compassion, kindness and justice in all of humanity.
This year, we aimed to start in a similar fashion, however, our heart continued to push us in the opposite direction. Instead of a path of discovery, we found ourselves leaning towards stopping, reflecting, and searching for an answer.
In Ramadan 2012, we want sustainability … or at least the possibility of sustainable inner peace.
I hope that I will be as light to your hearts in Ramadan 2012 as you are to mine.
Salam … PEACE … be upon you and I wish you a Ramadan Kareem, a Ramadan Mubarak and a Ramadan of Light !