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

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19 Ramadan 2016: Don’t wait for it, Just do it!

Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition. – Abraham Lincoln

RLYou have some advice? Give it! You have something someone can benefit from? Offer it! You have ideas worth sharing? Go ahead! You have a solution to someone’s problem? Tell them! You have a piece of knowledge that affected you in a positive way? Share it!

One day … everything you gave, offered, shared, or taught, will be remembered by all and will be important when it really matters and when it really counts be it in life or in the life hereafter.

Don’t worry about what people might “think”. Don’t worry about how people will take it. Don’t worry about looking self righteous. And no … you are not a hypocrite! unless you are totally doing the opposite of what you advise or share.

Have a clear, sincere intention to make the world a better place for the sake of god and leave shyness and worry aside, and be the best you can be under god’s light and guidance using the best of manners and the best of language.

On this blessed day of Ramadan, I wish us all strength, courage and generosity to share with others what we wish others can share with us.

 

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

29 Ramadan 2015: IT … Always has Meaning

Everyone has a story to tell, a lesson to teach, and wisdom to share… Life is a beautiful masterpiece bound together by your experiences … Live your life with intention. – Melanie Moushigian Koulouris

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There is not a single person who has lived, is living and will live on this earth who does’t have a story.

This story may seemingly end upon one’s death, but in fact it ends when one’s life has been accounted for all the good deeds and all the mistakes one has committed.

The point is that,

… we all have a story, but what makes this story worth having is – a good eternal end.

… we all have a story, but what makes this story worth sharing is – a clear intention.

… we all have a story, but what makes this story beautiful is – a clear purpose.

In other words, it is not the money, nor the status, nor the looks that make one’s story worth having, sharing or even beautiful.

It is the deeds, the intention and the purpose that one carries and makes clear to all around them.

My mother’s life taught me to …

watch my actions, watch my intention, and watch my purpose in life 

to make it a life worth living 

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17 Ramadan 2015: Be Generous and Share

Do not withhold good from those who need it, when you have the ability to help. – Proverb 3:27

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Of course generosity is about sharing with others … so what is new here?

The sharing I am talking about in this post is about sharing ways of goodness and not just sharing goodness itself.

If my mom heard of an opportunity to give charity, she shared it with others.

If my mom heard of an opportunity to hear a spiritual lecture by a prominent person, she shared it with others.

If she heard of an exhibition that would benefit someone either financially or emotionally, she shared it.

If she heard of an opportunity to volunteer, she shared it … she shared everything.

Reflecting on what I have seen throughout my life, there are some who always share … but more often than not, others rarely share ways of goodness and if they do, they may do it to illustrate a personal status or image. Why not share? As always, it comes down to fear – fear that someone may become better then them or at a minimum, like them, which comes down to arrogance.

Generosity is not only about giving … it is about also leading others to giving …

My uncle, who passed away exactly a year ago (10 days from now), lived across continents and oceans from my mother and their relationship was not necessarily close, yet, my mom did not stop sending him messages and sharing with him knowledge or opportunities for helping others.

Did he respond to all that she shared? No… but I can tell you that we soon discovered after his death that the last charity he ever gave was based on information my mom gave him. Imagine that – he did good in his last days in the world and my mom got rewards that will last a lifetime.

In this post, I urge myself and others to share ways of goodness with all.

No one will take good deeds away from us for god accounts all and I ask god to give us the confidence and self-esteem to share ways of goodness with all no matter how small so that we one day benefit from spreading goodness both in life and afterlife.

My mom taught me that …

your worth is related to how generous you are … and generosity is not about food and drink, it is how much you benefit others and point others towards ways of goodness.

 

 

Image courtesy of Marco Torresin / 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.

 

 

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10 Ramadan 2015: More than a Thousand Words

A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside. – Denis Waitley

 

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By the end of the first 10 days of Ramadan, most people’s bodies have gotten used to the new cycle of eating. Fasting, from food and drink,  becomes easy.

In an opposite fashion, by the end of the first 10 days of Ramadan, most people’s commitment to “fasting” from negative manners, behaviors and habits reaches a stage where one forgot the change they committed to.

One of the key inner changes is related to how we treat others, and that starts the first moment we see someone – a smile.

My mom smiled often – my mom even smiled on the day she departed this world onto the next one.

A lot of us find it hard to smile when we are focused on an issue or a matter at hand, but more often than not, smiling can actually help us think more clearly and may actually benefit us, it opens the doors to opportunities and for others to engage with us.

If fasting was of fasting from food and drink, that is one thing, but to reach the finish line in this blessed month, with stamina, we need to have taken control of our food, drink and soul.

In this second phase of Ramadan, the third of forgiveness, I seek forgiveness from god for all the times when we looked or acted “closed” towards others making them think we were “uncaring” and/or “non sharing”, leaving you with this:

I think that when you get dressed in the morning, sometimes you’re really making a decision about your behavior for the day. Like if you put on flipflops, you’re saying: ‘Hope I don’t get chased today.’ ‘Be nice to people in sneakers. – Demetri Martin

Smile …

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7 Ramadan 2015: Respect and All its Colors

I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university. ― Albert Einstein

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Less than two months after my mom’s passing I realized quickly how respectful she was to others.

Respect is typically about treating people of all levels with care for their own feelings and rights, but the respect I saw from her went a little beyond that and quite specific.

I saw her respect others by:

  • calling them when it had been long she hadn’t heard from them, irrespective of who should or should not call first;
  • visiting them when sick irrespective of how old or young they were;
  • enquiring about other people’s families and friends especially when she knew someone was worried about them;
  • hastening to give her condolences to others who have lost a loved one;
  • cooking for those she loved even when she couldn’t (and she cooked very very well);
  • helping anyone who asked her for help, no matter how small or big the request was;
  • helping with excellence, e.g. not just what they asked for, but everything around it as well and if she didn’t know, she called around and found the support or information needed to help them;
  • her home was always open to anyone who wanted to visit, no matter what the history may have been;
  • accepting anyone’s apology;
  • generously served and fed her guests, no matter who they were or what their social status was;
  • avoided confronting others and just let them be;
  • supported people’s greatest achievements and milestones no matter what she was going through;
  • she gave honest advice, whether accepted or not; and most importantly,
  • she stood by people in their time of need until they no longer needed her.

Respect, respect, respect … not for the sake of being loved or being said this person is this and that, respect for the sake of god for she didn’t necessary get recognized for it before her death – but definitely recognized after her death.

All we are as human beings is a bundle of needs and emotions – during this blessed month – I ask god to help us be a source of comfort for all.

 

 

Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / freedigitalphotos.net

2 Ramadan 2015: Kindness

Your greatness is measured by your kindness; your education and intellect by your modesty; your ignorance is betrayed by your suspicions and prejudices, and your real caliber is measured by the consideration and tolerance you have for others. – William J.H. Boetcker

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My mother was kind. Gosh, was she ever.

I had never met someone who no matter what others said or did, would have the ability to treat them with kindness no matter what the circumstances were.

Kindness in that she would smile, be generous with her words and actions and help others, with excellence, if her help was sought – with absolutely no judgement.

Don’t get me wrong, my mom got hurt and would, although very very very seldom, tell others that they hurt her, but it was never confrontational to the point of no return.

The key about kindness that I learned through her though is that it cannot be used as a mean to making more friends, or looking good, or hoping that people will say nice things about you behind your back or once you have left his world.

The reality is that being kind is being kind for the sake of god and

being kind may not give you anything positive in return.

I have seen many cases with my mom where she was kind, yet she was treated unfairly. She was kind, yet she was misjudged and suspected of having a hidden agenda. She was kind, yet she was taken for granted after making others feel more worthy than they truly were.

She was kind because that is the talent god gave her, but also because god asked us to be kind for he has been kind to ALL of us as we treat others and ourselves badly, yet he continues to bless us with greatness that we do not necessarily deserve.

Each time we are kind we are gaining points towards a positive end and judgement and that is all my mom took from this world, good deeds gained through acts of kindness.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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23 Ramadan 2014: Comouflage

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

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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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