23 Ramadan 2018: Faith First

We were with the Prophet, and we were strong youths, so we learned faith before we learned Qur’an. Then we learned Qur’an (holy book) and our faith increased thereby. (in Ibn Majah)

Before prayer, before fast, before charity, before what is allowable and what is prohibited, even before knowledge … faith comes first.

The prophet described faith as having seventy-odd branches, the most important of which is believing in the one and only god, with those remaining including:

  • Believing in a Day of Judgement (in Muslim)
  • Believing in all divine books (in Muslim)
  • Believing in Angels (in Muslim)
  • Believing in destiny both good and bad (in Muslim)
  • Believing and loving the prophet and all prophets (in Bukhari / Muslim)
  • Modesty, bashfulness and self-respect (in Muslim)
  • Wearing old clothes (not always new ones) (in Abi Dawud)
  • Removing harmful things from the path (roads / sidewalks etc) of others (in Muslim)
  • Good manners (in Tirmidhi)
  • Kindness to one’s family (in Tirmidhi)
  • Loving for others what one loves for themselves (in Bukhari)
  • Cleanliness and washing (in Muslim)
  • Simplicity (in Ibn Majah)
  • Less talk (in Tirmidhi)

What this means to me is that whether it is in self-improvement, parenting, advising friends and in doing good, faith – even if little – is the foundation of worship and not the other way around. It includes love and respect for self and all humanity, being considerate and being genuine in all our dealings and it is the root of all action.

May god bless us with good manners and the ability to recognise and strengthen our faith when it goes weak.

Photo by Matej Reciciar on unsplash

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21 Ramadan 2018*: Love for others what we love for ourselves

“O Abu Hurairah (a companion of the prophet), be cautious, and you will be the most devoted of people to Allah (god). Be content, and you will be the most grateful of people to Allah (god). Love for people what you love for yourself, and you will be a (true) believer. Be a good neighbor to your neighbors, and you will be a (true) Muslim. And laugh little, for laughing a lot deadens the heart.” (in Ibn Majah)

This saying covers advice on building one’s character by being cautious, thankful and taking life lightly but not too lightly that we are laughing all the time and having faith by loving for others what we love for ourselves and by being good to our neighbors.

While improving our character is important, it is loving for others what we love for ourselves that is always the most challenging.

I ask god to help us get over our own stinginess by helping us share whatever knowledge, benefits and opportunities with others without fear of competition or judgement … not a trivial task.

Photo by Elaine Casap on unsplash

*The previous post introduced the framework for salvation in life and the after-life. The next 9 or 10 posts (depending on when Ramadan 2018 ends) will be dedicated to sharing sayings or actions from the Prophet’s life worth reflecting upon in these last few days of the blessed month.

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

10 Ramadan 2017: He is always there

God will never give you anything you can’t handle, so don’t stress. – Kelly Clarkson

As we complete the first third of this blessed month, I can’t help but think of god’s role when it comes to despair.

In addition to god telling us in the various holy books that he is always with us and does not give us what we cannot bear, we only have to look closely to see this sign within ourselves.

Think of the most difficult times in your life when you thought you were never going to be able to “make it through” or get out of a situation, have you noticed that you always do? Have you noticed that when you look back you think, “I had everything I needed to get through this one”?

God is always here and he is always listening to us and he knows us better than we know ourselves. Knowing that gives me comfort that there is no need to despair, we just need faith that …

this too shall pass.

 

Image courtesy of photoexplorer at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

25 Ramadan 2016: True Reliance

The more you go with the flow of life and surrender the outcome to God, and the less you seek constant clarity, the more you will find that fabulous things start to show up in your life. ― Mandy Hale

RLHave you tried to let go? Like really let go?

I am not talking about not moving forward or problem solving or setting goals, I am talking about doing these things without holding on to a specific expectation or outcome … truly letting go.

I thought I did … until I realized I didn’t … and then when I really needed help … I did that, and the results were amazing.

How would you feel if you knew, you just knew, that everything was going to turn out exactly how it should and in the best outcome for you?

How would you feel if you knew that no outcome will be bad no matter how it looks?

How would you feel if you knew that if you really needed help, there was always – and I mean always – someone there?

Exactly! You feel invincible!

Nothing beats relying on god, and I mean truly relying on god where you take the steps necessary to complete a task to fulfill a dream without any hesitation or fear but at the same time knowing that no matter what steps you take, the outcome may be totally different but that it will always be better than what you had planned.

It is a tough one but it sure is worth a try … you will not be disappointed for he is always around, always seeing, always protecting and always providing.

 

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

22 Ramadan 2015: Respect the Young

A person’s a person no matter how small. – Dr. Seuss

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I have already mentioned how my mom’s grandkids miss her so dearly for the beauty she brought into their lives.

In this post I want to expand this thought and note how they miss her so dearly for how she made them feel – respected – and according to my own daughter, it was her:

  • cooking;
  • kindness;
  • ideas;
  • love;
  • hobbies;
  • passion;
  • ways of doing things;
  • flowers; and
  • smell

that made them feel that respect.

These are all aspects her grandkids, all under the age of 8 felt, and what a lovely list.

I bet that if I polled her nieces and nephews, they would probably come up with more or less a similar list, this was who she was.

She cooked for love. Her kindness was overwhelming. Her ideas were unique. Her love was endless. Her hobbies were infectious. Her passion was love. Her ways of doing things were beautiful. Her flowers were a reflection of who she was. Her smell … was mother … grandmother … wife … sister … daughter … niece … aunt … and friend.

May god rest her soul, I will quote one of my friend’s who has a young son who met my mom once who said after her death how she had never met someone who did not get flustered with kids and was so respectful of them.

If doing all these things is what makes the young and youth feel respected, then the formula is not so hard, is it?

My mom taught me …

respect everyone, especially the young, by sharing who you are with them

 

 

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / freedigitalphotos.net

19 Ramadan 2015: Trust

The most important lesson that I have learned is to trust God in every circumstance. Lots of times we go through different trials and following God’s plan seems like it doesn’t make any sense at all. God is always in control and he will never leave us. – Allyson Felix

R19

At the end of the day, reflecting on my mom’s life, my life and life of others, the only one you can trust with anything is god.

Some may see this as a negative view and that we should trust others.

I say on the contrary, why should we even  be responsible for judging others trustworthy or not, for most people move and take actions based on thoughts and emotions that is only specific to them and their trustworthiness can change based on the situation.

At the end of the day, we need to trust god who will organize all our affairs irrespective of who comes our way – trustworthy or not.

Having said that, when we do not judge others’ trustworthiness, it does not mean we negatively suspect everybody either, we just accept people as they are.

We think, we do, ask those we believe have the knowledge and have our best interests at heart to help us in solving our problems and carry out our needs … we neither depend on or beg anyone to help us.

The lovely thing about god is that when we need help, the right people often come into the picture, we just have to be aware of this natural life phenomena.

My mom taught me to …

take the means and ask when we need information and then trust only in god 

 

 

Image courtesy of antpkr / freedigitalphotos.net

12 Ramadan 2015: Be of Faith

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. ― C.S. Lewis

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As I have mentioned before, and like most people, mom had her ups and downs when it came to faith but no matter where she was, she always believed – and believed quite strongly – in god, for how could she not as she always reflected on her own life and own health and personal challenges.

Most of these challenges were of no fault of her own. Most of these challenges took place in what was later admitted to be the right time and place. Most of these challenges made her a better person. Most of these challenges revealed the truth about her and led her onto a life that was worth living.

Faith is like the roots of a tree; grounded, stable, deep and strong; with it, one is able to handle anything.

Her faith was always strong. She was proud of who she was and she always considered herself of faith by choice and not be birth. By choice, and not by followship. By choice, and not by force. She believed because she was happy to believe – it was that simple.

In an age where those of faith, any faith, are surrounded by negative media and pressure to let go of faith and live a life of emptiness filled only with desires that will eventually wear out the heart, soul and of course, the body.

My mom’s life taught me that

Faith is life, and with good deeds, it is the only thing that anyone will take with them on the day they depart this world.

So be of faith – any faith – do good and do not harm – it is good for you, your family and humanity.

 

 

Image courtesy of dan / freedigitalphotos.net

1 Ramadan 2015: Faith is Simple

The great lesson is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s backyard. – Abraham Maslow

R1BOne of the first lessons I learned when reflecting on mom’s life and her death is that faith is simple.

Faith is not dogmatic, Faith is not discriminatory, Faith is not complicated, Faith is not oppressive, Faith is not narrow, Faith is to all – young and old, healthy and unwell, educated and uneducated, poor and rich etc…

Faith is simple.

My mom lived a typical life of ups and downs when it came to faith. First she was in the know, then she wasn’t … but in the last 20 years of her life, when she was enlightened, she did not plan, she did not judge, she did not seclude others, and she knew what she stood for.

She knew she believed in god, and hoped from god. She knew that she believed in all prophets and angels and all acts of goodness, be it feeding others, smiling, giving to charity no matter how small, connecting with her close and distant family members, respecting those who provide services and help from the baker to the carpenter and gardener, forgiving pretty much everybody and performing her main religious obligations.

Her faith was living a simple life, performing her main obligations – prayer, charity, fast and pilgrimage, loving god and loving others, feeding her family and feeding others, and most importantly, getting whatever she needed to live done without delay and without outsourcing as much as she could – interacting with the “ordinary”.

Faith is simple and upon her death, what people have said and continue to say about her and her state when she passed away, tells me that simplicity, goes a long way at the end of it all.

 

 

 

Image courtesy of domdeen / freedigitalphotos.net

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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