28 Ramadan 2018: Being grateful

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (PBUH) said: A grateful eater is equal to a patient fasting person.(in Ibn Majah)

Year after year, I always reflect on whether it is harder to be patient through hardship or be grateful through blessings.

According to this saying, we don’t have to suffer and be hungry in order to attain salvation, the path to salvation could very well be gratefulness. As usual however, the key question becomes, do we recognise the blessings to begin with? That is not a trivial challenge.

Some swear by daily journaling of three things they are grateful for. Some swear by recognising the blessings in contrast to specific challenges they face. Some meditate to get in touch with their areas of thankfulness. Some simply recognise the blessings.

Whichever way, as we near the end of this blessed month when all our schedules from eating to prayer and working to sleep have been completely changes, I ask god to help us recognise and be ever thankful for our blessings not only during this month but until the next Ramadan and beyond.

Photo by Gabrielle Cole on unsplash.

Advertisements

27 Ramadan 2018: Fight Innate Stinginess

The prophet (pbuh) preached and said: Abstain from avarice, for those who had been before you were annihilated due to avarice. It (avarice) commanded them to show niggardliness; it commanded them to cut off their relationship with their nearest relatives, so they cut off. It commanded them to show profligacy, so they showed it.(in Albani)

Stinginess is innate and to various degrees. It is often related to the extent to which one shares tangible materials such as money and other possessions and also in relation to the extent to which one shares knowledge, information and other abstract things like time, space and words of comfort and kindness. This saying by the prophet (pbuh) introduces two other scales to miserliness; cutting off relationships with relatives and profligacy.

Relationships with relatives has evolved over the years. These relationships are meant to serve as a provision of support that is ordained by god amongst relatives who god has bestowed complementary wealth, health, knowledge and other bounties amongst them to now represent more of group think, strength or power, which is closer to tribalism. Cutting of these relationship indirectly leads to limited sharing of bounties with others who may be in need of them and who can provide different bounties in return.

Profligacy was a hard one to understand. Looking at other prophetic sayings covering the same, synonyms that come up include; vice, transgression, wickedness, corruption, and obscenity. While I could not quickly make the connection between these behaviours and miserliness, I realised that the link was that these traits often lead people to make decisions against sharing with others as one engages in behaviour to block goodness from others to satisfy the ego and related diseases of the heart from pride and envy to vanity and arrogance.

May god protect us from our own miserliness and may we always strive to fight it by recognising it and working towards taming it.

 

Photo by Thomas Shellberg on unsplash.

25 Ramadan 2018: No Anger

A man said to the Prophet (PBUH), “Counsel me,” so he (PBUH) said, “Do not become angry.” The man repeated [his request for counsel] several times, and [each time] he (PBUH) said, “Do not become angry. (in al-bukhari)

I have always been mesmerised by this piece of advice as I always wondered, how does one not become angry?

Anger is defined as (Merram-Webster) a strong feeling of displeasure, so how can we not become “strongly displeased” when there are many many situations in our lives that trigger this intense feeling?

I guess it is about breaking down this advice into the outer action of anger and the inner feeling of anger and the more we can control our inner feelings, the more we can control our outer actions when it comes to anger.

When I think back about when I have been the most angry, I can recall being angry when feeling resentful from not asserting my boundaries or feeling unheard when I try to express my needs and they are ignored or not acknowledged.

So going back to the prophet’s (pbuh) advice, the more we learn to assert our boundaries with excellence seeking a win-win and the more we practice patience by accepting that we cannot control others but we can seek salvation from god, then we can control and avoid anger.

May god help us work on ourselves not just in these blessed days, but all days until the next Ramadan and beyond.

 

Photo by Tomasz Sroka on unsplash.

 

 

24 Ramadan 2018: Be Humble

Iyad bin Himar narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said: Allah (God), the Most High has revealed to me that you (people) should be humble, so that no one transgresses another, or boasts to the other. (In Muslim)

In other words, if we want to know if we are humble, we should look within and assess our actions and truly ask ourselves;

  • Do we cross other’s boundaries? Be it in rights or space or even law?
  • Do we talk and think highly of ourselves in front of others especially when others are down?

I continue to be amazed with how real the prophet’s sayings are and how they are simple yet powerful when it comes to finding a way of life that is filled with goodness for ourselves and for others.

I ask god in this post, during this blessed night in this blessed month – that is about to come to an end, to make us humble and to account ourselves when we transgress or boast and seek forgiveness soon thereafter.

Photo by Michail Prohorov on unsplash.

22 Ramadan 2018: Watch What We Say

“O Messenger of Allah (god)! What is the means to salvation?’ He said: ‘That you control your tongue, suffice yourself your house, and cry over your sins.” (in Tirmidhi)

In other words,

  • Watching what we say and controlling the words we choose taking into account what positively affects people, what encourages them, sharing goodness and kindness without hypocrisy or lying and worse yet, intending to hurt others with our words;
  • Becoming satisfied with our own homes and not rely on outside influences to bring us joy from infusing designs, spreading aromas, and building home environments that suit us and make us happy; and
  • Remembering our sins and seeking forgiveness for them, taking steps to improve ourselves and not just ignore them.

We all have a different set of weaknesses, I find that speech is one of the hardest to control and watch especially these days where speech, both written and said, is abundant by those who know and those who don’t know that sometimes we can’t tell the difference.

I ask god in these blessed days to help us remain aware of our speech in all situations and to seek forgiveness when we make mistakes with good intentions. May we practice conscious speech as often as possible.

Wisdom comes with the ability to be still. Just look and just listen. No more is needed. Being still, looking, and listening activates the non-conceptual intelligence within you. Let stillness direct your words and actions.

Photo by Hrayr Movsisyan on unsplash

20 Ramadan 2018: Last Stop – Salvation

Through salvation our past is forgiven, our present is given meaning, and our future is secured – Rick Warren

For some reason this year, I needed to step back a bit and truly reflect on what it means to be in the last third of this blessed month, the third of salvation. What is salvation and why is it important?

In the Oxford Dictionary, salvation is the act of being saved from harm and all its related synonyms – infliction, loss, ruin, wrong, hurt, ill, etc. This implies that salvation is important because we are saved or protected from some harm. The question is though, what is this harm?

We can look at it from two perspectives driven by where the harm is; our lives or after-life.

We seek salvation from harm in this life by seeking that which benefits us be it knowledge and opportunities and build a shield of strength by working on our character and building our resilience. We seek salvation from harm in the after-life by seeking that which benefits us be it good deeds and belief, and build a shield of strength by thinking good of god and seeking his love.

I ask god to give us the energy, the blessings and positivity in these last 10 days to ask for:

  • knowledge and goodness in our lives throughout the next year and all our lives;
  • acceptance of the means and situations that strengthen our character and resilience in life;
  • energy and drive to do good especially in our own areas of talent and strengths; and
  • unwavering faith in god, his love and mercy.

It is with sadness that we realise that this month is now closer to the finish than the start, but we also thank god that we have reached this far and that there are still 9 or 10 days for making this the greatest Ramadan ever connecting with our deeper selves and the greatest of lords.

Photo by Sora Sagano on unsplash

18 Ramadan 2018: The Art of Waiting

Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. – Joyce Meyer

Waiting in life is inevitable. No matter how powerful or important one person is, we are always waiting ….

… for others;

… in lines;

… for things;

… for decisions;

… for storms;

… for reactions; etc.

It can be so frustrating especially when waiting involves interconnected decisions that hinge upon each other. However, while we try our best to reduce “wait times” and accept those that we cannot do anything about, the key is, as the quote above nicely points to, a positive attitude free of negative thoughts and assumptions that make waiting even tougher to handle.

Waiting does not necessarily amount to rejection, or being ignored or disrespected. Waiting is simply waiting for the right moment that god intends for us to uncover that which remains a mystery and god only delays things for good reasons that either help us appreciate that we are waiting for or prepare us for that which is about to be uncovered.

May god make waiting easy for us and may god, during this blessed month, help us see waiting for what it is, a journey to the right moment, the right place, and the right person.

Photo by Ethan Hu on unsplash

4 Ramadan 2018: The Two Tales of Acceptance

Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it – Michael J. Fox

Acceptance may be seen as a way of giving up, but I believe that acceptance is an active verb and state of being that one consciously decides to be in. The difference? Acceptance brings calmness and serenity, surrender brings resentment.

I always liked the way Henry Cloud and John Townsend spoke about boundaries and how not asserting them is signaled through feelings of resentment; a negative gut feel generating emotions of anger, sadness, bitterness, and confusion.

Acceptance that generates these feelings is the result of either not asserting one’s, or in the opposite sense crossing another’s, boundaries. Acceptance in this case is not acceptance at all and action is often needed to rectify underlying issues.

As a friend of mine reminded me today, we are not meant to be unhappy, and happiness comes from accepting that which is meant to be accepted and striving, calmly, towards changing it in a way that brings goodness to self and others.

So when is acceptance right? When it generates feelings of peace and comfort, openness and courage … now that is a state worth being in.

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

3 Ramadan 2018: Temper Temperance

A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough – Bruce Lee

It only took a couple of hours after yesterday’s post for me to be tested in a situation where someone was completely and absolutely … most likely unknowingly … rude. It was a strange experience, in the tight confines of an elevator, and it caught me by so much surprise, I could not but utter a few words under my breath, which I rarely ever do!

I was tested in a situation where I had no option but to travel, even if temporarily, with this complete stranger who had no idea that they had just triggered my natural fight or flight response. Soon enough however, I realised that those few words under my breath had not made any difference to the situation and I probably looked strange, if not equally rude, doing it. It was an unnecessary negative reaction in the holy month that neither led to a change in a situation nor, more importantly, did it bring me closer to god; on the contrary, and despite the simple situation, it went against the spirit of the holy month.

Quickly, and practically, god had provided me with an opportunity to realise that acceptance manifests itself even in our reactions to simple annoyances and in managing our tempers.

May god give us the wisdom and strength to manage our tempers in the rare big moments and the more regular small moments.

 

Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

 

27 Ramadan 2017: A Source of Despair from Within (2 of 2)

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself. ― Harvey Fierstein

As a follow-on to my previous post about sources of despair that are form within, the second one is not being who you are.

By not being who you are, you are denying yourself tasks that you feel closely align with your strengths. By not being who you are, you are denying yourself a long term dream and goal that is befitting to how you are meant to make an impact in the limited time you have on earth. By not being who you are, you are not receiving words of encouragement and support from those who truly care about your well-being and success.

This causes one to despair because one often finds themselves uncomfortable and restless for reasons that may not be clear leading to underachievement, productivity and personal satisfaction.

So, be who you are. Speak up. Hang out with people who are giving. Dream big and dream far.

In whatever job or situation you are in, actively work on moving into something that more closely aligns with your god-given strengths and don’t let external factors or circumstances make you give up on that. These circumstances may delay your plans, but don’t give up on them!

 

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net