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.

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26 Ramadan 2018: Salvation through God’s Mercy

Observe moderation in deeds and understand that none amongst you can attain salvation because of his deeds alone. They said: Allah’s (God’s) Messenger, not even you? Thereupon he said: Not even I, but that Allah (God) should wrap me in His Mercy and Grace. (in Muslim)
People are often sad to see the blessed month coming to an end, not only because of the increase in good deeds that come with simple acts of worship, kindness and love, but also because many blessings are seen in our everyday lives. People are also often calmer as it is believed that physiological changes happen on earth during this month and people naturally, and subconsciously, respond to them.
One of the realisations that people sometimes make by the end of the month is that human beings are so limited when compared to the sophisticated movements and evolution of the earth and the universe around us. This limitation includes the link between our good deeds and salvation.
As acknowledged in this quote from the prophet, no matter how much we pray, or do good, there is always more to be done and this can discourage us in doing good as we would always feel like we fall short. It is out of god’s mercy that we are only accounted for doing our best, and more importantly, with a pure heart and intention and not for showing off. A balanced approach where we can be consistent in small acts of worship, kindness and love goes much further than larger acts of kindness and goodness that are often hard to maintain in the long-run.
After all, we all attain salvation through god’s mercy.
Photo by Alex Blajan on unsplash.

17 Ramadan 2018: What if you were told that … you will lose your family tomorrow?

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. – Desmond Tutu

As much as the last two posts challenged my thinking and approach in life when it comes to death and money, it was this post that really shook me up.

Typing the title was difficult enough, envisioning it was downright painful.

Our immediate families; spouses and kids. Our parents, grandparents and siblings. Our uncles and aunts. They are all part of who we were, who we are, and who we will grow to be.

Yes, we have frusrating moments and moments where we outright have no idea how we ended up related to each other be it in marriage or by blood, but I can tell you that imagining losing any of them is sadness and pain in one package.

I have experienced the loss of grandparents, uncle, aunt, and a parent … what I end up remembering is how they made me feel and how in dealing with them, they were unique to strangers in my life in the small or big way they supported me.

Going through this exercise, and nicely articulated in the above quote, I realised that seeing ourselves as gifts to our famlies as they are to us, we can learn to appreciate every call, experience, memory or even challenge we have with them as a gift to both of us that we learn to accept and one day, come to cherish.

We must learn more about them and their stories and despite what we think, realise that they are, and will be, part of us.

Photo by Joel Herzog on unsplash

7 Ramadan 2018: Lives Underpinned by Love

No matter what storm you face, you need to know that God loves you. He has not abandoned you. – Franklin Graham

We generally think that god loves us when good things happen in our lives; we feel special and feel blessed. We feel that god loves us and that he must be satisfied with who we are and the good things we strive to do, until … we experience tough moments or despite our best efforts, we fall short in doing good.

Feelings of disappointment start to creep up and we start to feel God does not love us, or has given up on us. With this feeling comes discouragement and negativity. With this feeling comes a lack of appreciation of positive instances and lack of acceptance of negative instances in our lives.

I experienced this the other day when I was not able to wake up for the night meal before starting the next fasting day. Despite taking practical steps to ensure I wake up, I was not able to enjoy a nice meal at a time during the night that is peaceful in one of the most blessed months. My immediate reaction? Complete negativity and feeling of discouragement.

I started to think, maybe acceptance is not only about accepting all that happens to us, but is about accepting that every single small or big thing that happens in our lives is underpinned by god’s love and not disappointment. I believe that this wonderful underpinning is the key to acceptance in all areas of our lives. As long as our intentions are good, every single second in our lives on earth is a single second where god showers us with his love irrespective of how we determine our second to be, good or bad.

May we always see our lives as they are, engrossed in god’s love.

 

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

6 Ramadan 2018: Basic Realities

Life’s up and down from the time you get here to the time you leave – Luke Bryan

There are three basic realities that make acceptance easier:

  1. We are all here for a limited time and we don’t know if that time is short or long, all we know is that it eventually ends. So the question becomes … would I rather spend it accepting things I cannot change or focus on the good things that I can?
  2. We have some good days and we have some bad days. We have some tough teammates and some awesome ones. We have good, and bad, hair days. Some days we feel we can do anything and on others, we wonder where the *&^% are we heading? Some days we feel nothing can stop us, and on others, we are sensitive to every word, every look, and every gesture.
  3. We absolutely can never predict the future. We can think of likelihood and possibilities. We can think of cause and effect. We can think of risks and coincidences, but no matter how hard we think, analyse or squeeze our brains, we won’t be able to predict the future.

With these three realities one does start to see life as a ferris wheel, it goes up and down, round and round. Sometimes we wait in one spot longer than others as others are embarking or leaving cars. We often ride a ferris wheel assuming no malfunction would occur trusting others to have tested or maintained the ride, we just let go of control.

So then … again, why don’t we just go with the “ride“?

 

Photo by Jascent Leung on Unsplash

 

20 Ramadan 2017: I think of …

He foresaw my every fall, my every sin, my every backsliding; yet, nevertheless, fixed His heart upon me. ― Arthur W. Pink

As we start the last third of this blessed month, I think of god’s mercy and love that enters our hearts when all else seems dark around us.

I think of god’s fairness in giving us all a set of strengths and talents that help us live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

I think of god’s wisdom and knowledge that allows certain tribulations to take place yet gives us other matters that give us hope and positivity for the future.

I think of god’s kindness that no matter how long we take to count our many blessings, we would never feel like we captured them all.

I think of god’s beauty as I look around and see the beautiful flowers, the magnificent skies, the chirping of the birds and the many beauty colors and designs they have together with the butterflies.

I think of god’s forgiveness as no matter how far we go and how much we divert from doing good in this world, god is always ready for us to come back and live our best lives for ourselves and for others as well.

With an open heart and an open mind, I ask god to uplift us all and give us yet the greatest days ahead with blessings, love and peace of mind and heart.

 

Image courtesy of khumthong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

19 Ramadan 2017: It is time …

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. – Steve Jobs

We all know the state of the world these days, what we didn’t need is another tragedy. We woke up to the story of a burning building in London where many are believed to be in critical state or have moved on from this life. May those who have left their families and loved ones behind rest in peace.

What it did get me thinking about is how something like this awakens something in one’s soul that tackles despair…we have a limited time on earth and if it was our turn tomorrow, what have we left behind?

A good reputation? Helpful advice? Some charity? Knowledge? Anger? Materialistic behavior? Shallow advice? Envy? Greed?

We are what we leave behind … and we leave behind our words, our money, our work, our families, and our friendships … so are they in the condition we would like to leave it in?

We might not achieve what we hope to achieve but at least we can try and people know we tried.

It is time … it is time to be free of fears and expectations that are unjustified.

It is time … to go after what we want and share it with others.

It is time … to enjoy each other’s time while we still can.

It is time … to help those in need in whatever way we can.

It is time … to choose our words carefully.

It is time … to commit to excellence in whatever we set our minds to.

It is time …

 

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

17 Ramadan 2017: It can be much worse

Such is life and life is such and after all it isn’t much. First a cradle. Then a hearse. It might have been better, but it could have been worse. – Norman Wisdom

One very effective way around feelings of despair is the power of imagination … imaging how different and worse things could be that brings us back to the circle of thankfulness and satisfaction with self, society and god.

I know, this might sound like a passive approach to positivity and change but the truth is that it cannot be ignored because yes, things could be much much much worse and our current situation can become much much much worse in a split second.

Take one moment, and imagine just one aspect that could be worse … believe me, your feelings of desperation will switch, even if temporarily or momentarily, to feelings of thankfulness.

There are so many negative things in our world today. Thank god for our safety. Thank god for clean water. Thank god for food. Thank god for a roof over our heads. Thank god for decent health to move around. Thanks to god always.

So again, why are we sad? It really could be much much worse.

I may not be where I want to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be. Joyce Meyer

 

 

Image courtesy of winnond at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

30 Ramadan 2016: Three Key Changes

By changing nothing, nothing changes.– Tony Robbins

RL

Today, on the last day of this blessed month, something weird happened … a lot of wrong things.

I was impatient … I procrastinated … I rushed … I was annoyed … I disregarded others … it was seriously a weird day.

I say weird because of the sheer irony.

After 29 days of trying to be a better person than I was before Ramadan, and after 29 days of recognizing my weaknesses with plans in place for how to deal with them after Ramadan…

Here I was on the last day doing THE THINGS I SAID I WOULD NOT DO AFTER RAMADAN!!!!!!

Then a dear friend reminded me that that in itself was a blessing.

As difficult as it was, I started to see that … I started to see that it was god’s way, within the blessed month, to reiterate the changes I need to make in my life.

… patience, priority, gentleness.

God was, is and will always be merciful.

 

 

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / freedigitalphotos.net

 

28 Ramadan 2016: What do we want?

Are these things really better than the things I already have? Or am I just trained to be dissatisfied with what I have now? ― Chuck Palahniuk

RLWhat do we really want?

I think, beyond colors, cultures and genders, we all just want to be happy.

While a stable state of happiness is not possible in that sense, it is possible to have a stable state of happiness if we accept the way things are, the way things come, the way things go … happiness is about acceptance.

Let us accept our spouses, accept our kids, accept our looks, accept our wealth, accept our friends, accept our jobs, … accept everything.

All of a sudden we will see that we live abundant lives full of blessings we can never thank god for.

 

 

Image courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul / freedigitalphotos.net