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.

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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

8 Ramadan 2018: Accepting Ourselves

The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely. – C.G. Jung

We can’t talk about acceptance and not look inward.

I believe in continuous and never-ending self-improvement, however, what I have come to discover in the past year is that the negative aspects in our lives are but manifestations of not accepting oneself and making continuous and never-ending self-improvement focused on making our surroundings more conducive for who we are.

Let me explain.

The lazy teenager is not lazy, they are not aware of, and not embracing, the unique strengths they have and setting out to bring those out as opposed to their weaknesses.

The rude neighbour next door is not rude, she just does not know how to assert her needs for a comfortable and clean building as others leave their garbage in the hallway or play loud music late at night.

The quiet and shy colleague is not arrogant, he just values introspection and has a difficult time pursuing and participating in small talk.

So in these three examples, more often than not, the teenager, neighbour and colleague all know what others think of them, and often adopt one of two approaches; they either enter into a never-ending struggle to be someone they are not, or embrace who they are and aggressively challenge the whole world around them. In both cases, these are manifestations of not accepting oneself.

In this post, I ask god to give us the strength and means to recognise and understand who we are, accept it, and then focus on a never-ending and continuous journey of improving our surroundings to give the best of ourselves to the world around us.

 

Photo by abigail low on Unsplash

 

21 Ramadan 2017: Forgiveness

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. – Lewis B. Smedes

The definition of despair is the loss of hope and confidence. Despair is about pain, melancholy and sorrow.

One of the reasons of despair is people … people who hurt. People who abandon. People who disappoint. And the only way around that is to forgive and make peace with others.

Peace with others is looking back at what disappointed us and especially when the person in question is not directly hurtful, blame it on circumstances and the will of god.

Peace with others is about accepting people as they are, faults and all and not pick on what they did, said or didn’t say or didn’t do, just work around them, avoid putting them in a situation to hurt you and accept that we may not all like each other but we can accept each other.

Peace with others is recognizing those who are directly hurtful and avoid situations where we depend on them for anything and use words of respect and goodness and power of silence when dealing with them.

Peace with others is shifting the focus from others to ourselves and being generous with others in terms of sharing of knowledge, goodness and spreading of positivity.

May we find the strength within us to forgive others and not pick on what people do and don’t do and just walk on earth with peace in our hearts full of patience and mercy on all.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles 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

14 Ramadan 2016: Cherish them

But she wasn’t around, and that’s the thing when your parents die, you feel like instead of going in to every fight with backup, you are going into every fight alone. ― Mitch Albom

RLJust like in everyday life, I recently had an important career decision to make, and I didn’t know what to do. In my mind, all I saw was difficulty in every possibility.

I thought, I procrastinated, I worried, I complained … just unnecessary fear and unnecessary confusion.

I asked god to show me the way and I got my support from the strangest of people.

Ok, well, it is not that strange, but it was interesting to see that after losing my mom a year ago, I found a sense of support and comfort in my dad.

My dad was always wise and smart but mothers often are the first and main source of support, a role which seems like my dad is slowly assuming.

I can tell you that we don’t only need our parents, but we are never the same without them, it is like losing a part of you that you can never get back, creating a gaping whole that never ever ever closes.

With our parents, we never have to go anywhere alone.

With our parents, we never have to decide alone.

With our parents, we never have to worry or celebrate alone.

With our parents, near or far, close-knit or not, we are NOT alone.

In this Ramadan, I ask god to give all surviving parents a long life full of wisdom and bliss.

In this Ramadan, I ask god to forgive the mistakes of our deceased parents and help us always remember them in our hearts and minds.

Love your parents

 

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net

27 Ramadan 2015: Don’t be afraid of …

When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice. ― Brené Brown

R27

… boundaries.

Should we have them? Do we need them? Will they hurt us now? Will they hurt us in the afterlife?

I wouldn’t say my mom was excellent with boundaries, but I wouldn’t say she didn’t have any either. She seemed to maintain an interesting balance – sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

What I learned from her however is that not setting any boundaries is not good. Not setting any boundaries comes down to fear, fear that the person who might be sometimes rightfully kept on the “other side of the fence”, will not accept it and will even go out of their way to hurt us in one way or another, directly or indirectly.

It is interesting to note however that those who seem to have many many boudanries set, or what I call, harsh inflexible boundaries set, are equally afraid of getting hurt or losing out.

So what works?

Like all things, it is balance.

There are boudanries that matter, and there are those that don’t.

For matters that may be harmful and involve yourself or your family, there should be a clear and consistent application of boundaries with active reflection and strength to ward off fears that may or may not be founded.

If these fears are founded, thank god you picked them up. If these fears are unfounded, thank god you did something about boundaries that will prevent future feelings of resentment, isolation and potentially negative behavior and mistrust towards others.

For matters that benefit ourselves or others … boundary-less. I would also ask myself why I would want to set boundaries in matters that bring benefits to many?

As we approach the last couple of days of this blessed month, may god make us witness more and more of them in our future, a big lesson that my mother’s life taught me is that …

Boundaries are essential.

When none are set, resentment sets in.

When too many are set, injustice towards others sets in. 

Set them in matters, specific to you and your family, that may be hurtful or harmful.

Let go of all boundaries in matters that benefit yourself and others.

 

Image courtesy of twobee / freedigitalphotos.net

24 Ramadan 2015: The Secret to an Everlasting Bond with your Children

What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it. – C.S. Lewis

R24

A lot of parents seek to be friends with their kids.

Some try to find that friendship through rewards and consequences. Some try to find it by sharing some of their interests. Some try to find it by changing their values – sometimes to the better and unfortunately sometimes to the worse. Some try to find it by letting go of their passions and interests.

What my mom taught me AFTER her death is that friendship can only be found when both parent and child see the same truth – and that truth is faith.

While I appreciate all the love, compassion, protection, support, meals and gifts given to me, it was only when we both started to see, and more importantly share, the truth about life and about living, that we truly found the true friendship that both parents and children seek.

In fact, what bonds me to mom now, even after her death, is the process of discovery we both went through, and the love for god and for doing good that we tried to support each other in.

And while she may not be here with me, whenever I pray or do anything good for the sake of god, I always think of her and remember the first time we shared or spoke about these experiences or the first time she taught me something new or the first time I shared with her something new.

What my mom taught me is that …

the best bond one can have with their child is a bond of friendship through discovery, sharing and living, with faith

 

 

Image courtesy of digitilart / freedigitalphotos.net

23 Ramadan 2015: Relatives …

Hermes gazed up at the stars. ‘My dear young cousin, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the eons, it’s that you can’t give up on your family, no matter how tempting they make it. It doesn’t matter if they hate you, or embarrass you, or simply don’t appreciate your genius for inventing the Internet–‘ ― Rick Riordan

R23

This one was an interesting post to write – I couldn’t not write it – because my mom definitely was a role model when it came to establishing and maintaining ties with her extended relatives.

You see, it is not that she went out of her way to do anything grand or superior, but it was the little things she did like calling them, asking about them, providing advice when asked, being happy of them in their good times and listening to them in their tough times. Simple … and basic.

The key you see, is always being in touch, and not necessarily the closest of friends which can only be done based on chemistry and values.

Now, did any of this result in anything spectacular? No, not really. What it do though is prepare her for her last breath on earth knowing that she did her best in maintaining ties of kinship and when asked, she will be ready to answer.

I don’t want to delve too much into why it is important to maintain these ties except to say that god asked us too … and whatever he asks us to do means that it benefits us … and ultimately, these ties are for social stability, i.e. your family should be the first to support emotionally and physically especially in tough times. Of course one has to have the right character for relatives to reach out to them during such times, and no one would know our character unless, again, we were in touch.

Will all relatives appreciate or agree with this approach? No, but does it matter if the intention is good? At the end of day, you will be in touch and all that will do is soften hearts with no expectations.

My mom taught me that …

Keeping in touch is what maintains ties of kinship and all as part of faith

 

 

Image courtesy of Feelart / freedigitalphotos.net