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.

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19 Ramadan 2018: Falling Short of Our Own Expectations

Have high expectations and hopes for yourself, do your best, but do not debilitate yourself with meeting them – keep aspiring and celebrate the journey – Ramadan Living

I am a firm believer that we need to set high expectations for ourselves, for in these high expectations we see action comparable in hope and energy.

Having said that, what I have experienced is that sadness and de-motivation – very different to the fruits of acceptance – kick in once I realise that either what I set out to do is not going to materialise or it may be more difficult to get there. All of a sudden, these high expectations are a burden and “giving up” often replaces the high hopes and high energy.

I have also experienced this during this blessed month as I set out to do more good, pray more, remember more, learn more, but often, I fall short and often, because of other people, situations or circumstances out of my control. In falling short, I found myself discouraged and not accepting that even in falling short, there is wisdom, nurturing and growth.

I ask god to bless us all with the positivity to set high expectations for ourselves balanced with resilience and patience when we fall short of them, and we will fall short.

 

Photo by XiaoXiao Sun 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

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

16 Ramadan 2018: What if you were told that … you will lose all your money in a week?

More men are ruined by underestimating the value of money than by overestimating it. Let us, then, abandon the affectation of despising money, and frankly own its value. – Orison Swett Marden

Coaches often ask their clients what they would do tomorrow if money was no object, i.e. all our needs could be met through an abundance of resources and cash that we had access to. Their objective is to help us discover what and where our true passions lie and then go about doing it.

Inspired by my last post, I thought about our answers if we were told that we were going to lose all our money tomorrow or more practically, next week. We would not have access to any resources or cash that is key to our survival.

Going through this exercise myself, I realised the importance of planning for future self-sustenance but also the importance of charity, generously spending it ob our friends and family, and not denying ourselves the pleasures of life that come with spending money so that we may not have any regrets. What was really interesting though was how the power and the importance of connectivity with good friends and family was absolutely key.

Money should never be the object of our life be it in what we do and how we live, however, we must appreciate its’ importance. I found that answering this question brought me closer to accepting what god pre-ordains for me in terms of wealth but also how it should be spent and the role that we must take-up with family and friends for we just don’t know who, when and where our support is required; isn’t that what family is for?

Photo by Pina Messina on unsplash

15 Ramadan 2018: What if you were told that … you didn’t have long to live?

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. – Steve Jobs

News of the death of a very young man in his 20s became viral in the last few days. It wasn’t his death as much as his reaction to death that touched people as he was diagnosed with Cancer two years prior when he publicly recorded an interview to talk about who he was before the diagnosis and what / who he was after the diagnosis.

We all have family, friends or even ourselves, who have had to face news about our eminent death due to disease. It is not an easy situation and although we all know that death is always around the corner and that we can never know when our time comes, something jolts you when you hear an “estimate” … of course these estimates are always wrong.

So the point of this post, with all honesty, what would you do if you were told you had x months to live? Would you seek avenues to cheat the disease? Would you just spend it with family? Would you travel the world? Would you volunteer? What do you really think you would do?

Then I would probably ask myself if that is the way I would want to spend my last days and work on making it my present reality, i.e. a life worth living and focusing on what Steve Jobs quotes as “what is truly important“.

Photo by Val Vesa 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

 

2 Ramadan 2018: Trying too hard

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself ― Leo Tolstoy

In the past year, I have learned that part of acceptance is realising that the only thing that one can truly change is oneself.

While I can genuinely try to change my surrounding reality when maneuvering through the interesting challenges of life, I figured that it was more worth while to think about the options I had within my surrounding reality and work with them instead of holding expectations of change in others and what I now label as “trying too hard”.

So instead of asking how I can change a person or group of people in a particular task, place or situation, I now try to shift my view to what my role is, and related options are, in the change I seek in the task, place or situation that is bothering me.

Having said that, and in a lot of cases, change in others is key to the change in task, place or situation, and this is where acceptance and patience would be more befitting especially when the task, place or situation have a more significant purpose and benefit.

I ask god to give us the ability to shift our view from others to ourselves.

Photo by Joe Beck on Unsplash

1 Ramadan 2018: Acceptance

Welcome O blessed month!

Welcome O blessed month of forgiveness, of self, of others, learning and growth.

This year’s theme is based on my experiences since Ramadan 2017 that included an interesting common theme of trying too hard to change that which is meant to be ‘as is’. I am not advocating that we not try hard to change things, but what has come up are learnings that truly embody … “accept(ing) the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” – Reinhold Niebuhr.

I look forward to spending a new Ramadan with you and I ask god to make it blessed for all.

25 Ramadan 2017: Patience

Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you’re waiting – Joyce Meyer

We can’t cover despair without covering patience.

You see, loss of hope means that whenever we face difficulty we get upset and often can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Even when we are able to convince ourselves that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we often want it to be closer to us, but that is something we may or may not be able to control, and that is where patience comes in.

Patience, often mistaken as a noun, is actually a verb. In other words, it pertains to an action taken and not just a mere description.

As an action, patience is about complementing the positivity that comes with seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with an internal dialogue that keeps talking of hope and controlling the outer tongue from complaining about the difficulty one is facing.

Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that we don’t speak about our difficulties with others we trust or are more knowledgeable than we are in order to learn more about what we can do to hasten the time of difficulty, I am talking about insistent complaining that neither produces action nor produces hope.

I ask god on this blessed day and night to give us the strength to be patient in bad times as we await relief and in good times as we may not recognize the goodness that befalls us.

Speaking of this blessed day and night, I remind myself first and others that these are the last five or four nights of this blessed month where good deeds are multiplied and goals are set for the next year … let us all make them count!

Let each of us, fasting or not, be the positive news in the world!

 

Image courtesy of Ian Kahn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net