Eid 2014: Salam and Eeman

“Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.” – A.W. Tozer

Eid

We started Ramadan 2014 sharing with you our view this year of a Ramadan of … Simplicity, Thankfulness, and Humility …  I hope it was for you as it was for me.

This post is a small thanks to God, the ever-living, self-subsisting, self-existing God upon who we all depend, knowingly or not, for all the blessings that he bestows on us, small and big.

With this, I wish you all a Blessed Eid 2014 in some of the languages of the world …

Eid Kareem …

Eid Mubarak ..

Bajram Barecula …

Mutlu Bayramlar …

Selamat Idul Fitri …

Hari Raya Aidilfitri …

Barka da Sallah …

Maligayang Eid …

Until next year … wishing you all … SALAM (peace) and EEMAN (faith).

… and thanks to god the nurturer and all-merciful (Hamdullillah Rab El 3alameen)

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29 Ramadan 2014: Reflection and In Memory

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

R29

Death is so fascinating … both positive and negative … and in all cases, a reality. Death is a ‘right’ that each one of us will pass, a ‘transition’ onto the next life and a ‘return’ to our creator, our lord.

This Ramadan was exceptionally unique as I lost a dear, young uncle of mine on the 27th of Ramadan, i.e. a couple of days ago. Death, especially of a loved one, brings much reflection and thought. My uncle was one of my biggest “blog fans” who followed and enjoyed my ramadan thoughts throughout the past 9 years and today, this last entry for Ramadan 2014, is dedicated to him.

The first reflection upon his death is that we are all given this short time, and instead of today’s chaos – rushing, pushing, stressing – one MUST find calm and find a way to limit exposure to provision related stresses and focus on what is important long term; faith and good deeds. Death of any loved one comes to put an immediate stop in order to take a moment to look, reflect and ask, ‘am I walking in the right direction?’ and ‘am I doing the best I can in the time I am given?’.

The other reflection is related to how different people’s lives begin and end, and how sometimes it is not what we did that matters, but how we responded, and how we were with others and with god. No one is perfect, but like any precious life, his included a few reflections which I share some with you here.

Some people work night and day to be loved by people by reading self-help books, my uncle had a constant smile.

Some people work day and night to feel loved, my uncle did it by being his old parents’ friend.

Many people work hard in prayer for salvation, my uncle found it in patience while being really ill.

… On family:

“Spend as much time as possible with your family uncle, spend your money on them and travel with them, they are all you have”

… On money:

“Money is important uncle, but only enough. Have a home, have a car, have some savings but spend the rest, for there may come a time where you have money, but you can’t physically spend it or you have money, which does not do you any good”

… On career:

“Career is important as a source of money, but what matters uncle is that you do what you enjoy and do not depend on a ‘job’ to give you that. Find your own way and source of income if you can, but keep it clear, simple and right. Be clear on how you want to spend your days”

… On health:

“Be healthy uncle, but healthy to live well but know, that you might eat organic and still get sick. You might exercise and still get sick. Enjoy your life while you are healthy”

… On time:

“You want to do something? Do it today, don’t wait because the opportunity will definitely go”

Leaving the best advice to last which is my personal favorite  … On destiny:

“No one will leave this earth uncle before he or she lives out their complete destiny. Those you think will die first, may die last and those you think will die last, may die first. You never know when is your time but you will live out all that has been pre-ordained for you and you cannot flee it, you just have to live it”

Dear Uncle ….

“I love you every day. And now I will miss you every day.” – Mitch Albom

and most importantly …

God is ever so kind, merciful and generous even during such times

which bring many many many blessings and learnings

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28 Ramadan 2014: View “from the top”

…Spiritual opening is not a withdrawal to some imagined realm or safe cave.  It is not a pulling away, but a touching of all the experience of life with wisdom and with a heart of kindness, without any separation. – Jack Kornfield

R28

You want to know god? Look at the life of those around you. You want to REALLY know god? Look at your own life. You want to REALLY REALLY know god? Read his holy book, observe your life and observe others’ lives, and you will know him through his actions, through his names, through his attributes.

I have always been fascinated with people’s lives. Mind you, I did not like to be in their business (which could be misinterpreted), but I always had an inquisitive nature to see my own life and other people’s lives “from the top” as a broad series of events, trying to make sense of what they go through to see how I can learn a thing or two. The more I see across the years, the more I am convinced that we see god’s actions in that way with one caveat, our analysis and interpretation. This is where the holy book comes in … to shed light on what is true and what is not in the grander context of a complex life full of interrelated events, relationships and beings.

May we always see truth and may we always have the time and space to reflect and ponder … to be inspired by god’s actions.

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27 Ramadan 2014: “Let Days Go Forth”

Let Days Go Forth

Let days go forth and do as they please
And remain firm when settled is the Decree

Don’t be afraid of what happens by night
For the affairs of this world are not to last

And be a man, strong in the face of calamities
And let your nature be that of kindness and honesty

If your faults become too much in front of the people
And you wish that they were to be concealed,

Then know that kindness covers all faults
And how many faults are kept hidden by kindness!

No sadness lasts forever, nor any happiness
And you shall not remain in poverty, or any luxury

Generosity cannot be hoped from the miserly
For no water exists in the Fire for the thirsty

Your provision will not be lessened due to life’s delays
And it cannot be increased due to your haste

If, in your heart, you possess contentment
Then you and those who possess the world are equal

And for him upon whose horizon death descends,
No earth can offer him protection, nor any sky

Indeed, the earth of Allah is certainly vast
But if decree descends, then decree is constricted

Let days be the ones that betray you at all times
For no cure can avail a person of death

– Imam Al-Shafi’i (RA)

26 Ramadan 2014: Decision Today … Impact Forever

“We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.” – Ken Levine

R26

We make decisions every day and every day those decisions lead to outcomes, but question, are these outcomes limited to the specific matter that one is deciding on? I started to notice recently that a decision can potentially have ripple effect lasting until the last day of one’s life, if not forever.

Life seems to be like a process flow where steps are taken and decisions are made with potential loop back arrows. The question is, do we know where the line loops back?

In this blessed month, I ask god to give us the clarity to make decisions based on both short term and long term outcomes aiming for decisions that lead to outcomes that do no harm to us or others.

25 Ramadan 2014: Be who you are

“She had blue skin,
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by-
And never knew.” – Shel Silverstein

 

R25

Take your friend, relative, spouse, child, neighbor, parent … do you know them? Like really know them? Do you know yourself?

Masks are not new and have always been the norm in society since Adam PBUH was created. It all started when Adam PBUH was in heaven with Satan’s insistent deception of being Adam’s ally and friend convincing him to eat from the forbidden tree. Some may say that masks do not necessarily mean deception, but instead, masks are about showing your “best side”.

In my view, if I was showing my “best side”, I would probably be aiming for good manners and character including kindness, love, and sincerity, in other words, my best self and not a different self, which is what a mask does. And the notion of ‘looking the part to be the part’, is simply non-sense. No one ever got anywhere with ‘being the part’, they got there with hard work and with destiny and luck on their side.

I say, we are all beautiful, and we have nothing to fear, let us not fear anyone. We are people living together on this earth trying to survive, trying to make this world bearable and enjoyable and full of goodness. Nothing I do or say will take away something you have or will get, and nothing I do or say will give you anything you don’t have or will not get …. this is all destiny.

May god bless us in these last few blessed days of Ramadan 2014 with the ability to be confident of who we are, brave yet kind, gentle and honest. May we not follow a crowd, may we follow ourselves. We all have a story to tell, and if we can’t speak and ‘be’ that story, then what do we leave behind? Who are we? What have we done in our short time on earth???

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24 Ramadan 2014: There is no such thing as …

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

R24

I cannot tell you how often I have wondered about the power of god in shaping our lives. We do have freewill, but at the same time, the set of circumstances we are under are quite interesting. While I may think I know something with certainty, chances are, I don’t know much. All I know, and all I am, is in control of my own choices and decisions in certain places and situations.

The result of this is that no matter what the situation is, sometimes when I want to make a certain decision something practically stops me, and instead of wallowing ‘why me’ and ‘why not’, I wonder, what is the good that is to come out of this? Am I being saved from another disaster? Am I being taught a valuable lesson I need to be aware of for the future? To me, and I never ask for any tough challenges in my life or anyone else’s of course, but when they do come, I want to try to think about the positive thing that comes out of a situation I may not be able to call all the shots to.

May…

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference. – Reinhold Niebuhr

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23 Ramadan 2014: Comouflage

“Sometimes God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves.” – Joni Eareckson Tada

R23

It is interesting to hear those who do not believe in God ask ‘if god exists, why would he then let all these bad things and global suffering happen?’ ummm, I don’t know, but what I do know is that if one truly believes in god then one believes in his ‘all-wise’ attribute and puts trust in him, so my answer would be ‘there must a good reason beyond our comprehension and all we need to be aware of is our role in the good and our role in the bad ensuring that one always chooses to do good’.

There is no sense in attributing bad qualities to god, for it would mean that none of us would have any hope for a better day, a brighter day and a day where all is right, this would only make us more depressed and unable to make any good decisions to help those around us and be the best that we can be. The sheer knowledge and belief that all this suffering happens for a ‘reason’ makes one remain firm on the path to excellence, compassion, love and mercy to all others. The sheer knowledge and belief that all this suffering happens for a ‘reason’ makes one know that where there is destruction there is also growth soon afterwards.

May we be able to see beyond the headlines and ‘camouflage’ and see that the only thing we are responsible for is to believe and do good … believe and do good … believe and do good …

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22 Ramadan 2014: What lasts?

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” – C.S. Lewis

R22

2Think about it? Has any wealth ever lasted for anyone? Has any health ever lasted for anyone? Has your life been free of any sad moments? Has your life been free of any calamities? Has anyone ever stayed alive?

The point is when all these changing matters go on in one’s life, any intelligent and logical person could see that no one and nothing ever lasts but what we do know is that there is an end. It is too illogical for for our lives to end just there, in fact, I would say it is even unjust as those who suffered in life must somehow see happiness and those who did made bad choices must somehow pay for their wrongdoings. so there must be something afterwards and whatever that something is, it must be the only stable thing lasting throughout the generations of human kind.

To me, this only thing is god and in his grace and mercy, is the one who lets the sun rise and sun set, the trees grow and the clouds rain. Never in the life of humanity has anyone been able to get to the core of creation without relying on any other creation, for example, if one places a seed in the earth to grow an apple tree, one needs to water it to grow. So where did the seed come from? Another pre-existing apple? and so on … so when was the first seed???? it had to come from somewhere that existed in the beginning and that will exist in the end.

May god make us see all the signs of continuity and discontinuity in life and be able to learn from them in being able to live a happier and more serene life.

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21 Ramadan 2014: Fluid Charity

“For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.” – Sam Levenson

R27

There are many ways to see charity, we can see it in terms of monetary amounts, effort, scale, impact, etc… recently observed and been made aware of, I charity can be seen from another perspective, one that is fluid and comes alone, and one that is intermittent and sought. One is not necessarily better than the other and in both cases, they are good and make the world a better place.

In the former, fluid and comes alone, charity is constant, continuous and easy to identify. It comes and is not searched for. It may come when expected or may come as a surprise. This form is usually in the form of a request made to me for help, be it financial, physical, emotional, time or knowledge. It may come from those we expect and those we don’t expect. Done with a good intention, as opposed to showing off in front of others, this form of charity doesn’t feel hard and doesn’t feel restrictive. In sync with my life and abilities as nothing that comes our way is coincidental, those in need and who can benefit from me will come forward and as long as I say yes, or do my best to help, or refer to another who I think could help, more opportunities to help will come.

The latter, intermittent and sought, charity is occasional and is specified. One seeks a charity that fulfills a desire or a strength that one person feels they have and would like to share with others. It also may be financial, physical, emotional, time or knowledge and the benefciiaries are those specificlly chosen. Again, done with a good intention, as opposed to showing off, self righteousness or hidden intention, this form of charity needs organisation and planning.

May god help us in this blessed month be a source of posiivity, good and support for all those in need.

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