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.
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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

 

4 Ramadan 2018: The Two Tales of Acceptance

Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it – Michael J. Fox

Acceptance may be seen as a way of giving up, but I believe that acceptance is an active verb and state of being that one consciously decides to be in. The difference? Acceptance brings calmness and serenity, surrender brings resentment.

I always liked the way Henry Cloud and John Townsend spoke about boundaries and how not asserting them is signaled through feelings of resentment; a negative gut feel generating emotions of anger, sadness, bitterness, and confusion.

Acceptance that generates these feelings is the result of either not asserting one’s, or in the opposite sense crossing another’s, boundaries. Acceptance in this case is not acceptance at all and action is often needed to rectify underlying issues.

As a friend of mine reminded me today, we are not meant to be unhappy, and happiness comes from accepting that which is meant to be accepted and striving, calmly, towards changing it in a way that brings goodness to self and others.

So when is acceptance right? When it generates feelings of peace and comfort, openness and courage … now that is a state worth being in.

Photo by Ivana Cajina 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.

24 Ramadan 2017: Don’t Wait … Just Start

Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right.’ Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. – George Herbert

How many times have we found ourselves within a very busy period of time at work or in life with parents or with children or with limited time or money to actually do what we want. In what we want, I am talking about things that our hearts and minds literally shout for within ourselves but we try to ignore them because we “can’t” and we don’t see a “way”.

The truth is, we think we won’t be busy tomorrow and we can get started then or we think our parents or kids will not need much of our time tomorrow or we will have more money and and and. That might be true but the truth is that these are all priorities in our lives and will not stop or go away.

Our parents, our children, our work, our money and any other resources or blessings god has given to us, they are all a priority and we must be committed to them, but there is a calling and one must respond to that calling without delay with whatever we have access to today.

We just have to start and see where it takes us from there without any expectations.

This post is a call to recognize, listen and respond to the calling, you never know, maybe the calling is today because it is critical I take action today for success tomorrow as opposed to delaying things.

Start moving … even if slowly, start, you will always have an excuse, might as well start today.

 

 

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

18 Ramadan 2017: Moderation and Balance

Everything in moderation, and there’s a perfect balance in this life if we can find it. – Ryan Robbins

Susan Jeffers’, in Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, presents a model for one’s “whole life” (p. 139). It has 9 boxes covering different facets in one’s life as opposed to one or two aspects that if gone, sends one on a downward spiral towards depression, sadness or despair.

Moderation, to me, is having a balanced life in different aspects. We may not be perfect in each sphere, but we are balanced. Being extreme is about putting our eggs in one basket be it work, relationship, kids, friends etc… without taking other spheres into account.

So when we are not where we want to be at work, we look at the other areas to provide balance until we are satisfied with work again, and so forth. So the key is also to have the right “spheres” within our lives that together, give us a balanced and satisfactory life.

I ask god, in this blessed month, to help us identify the different spheres of focus in our lives and help us live our life in moderation practicing patience when things don’t seem* to be good and practicing gratitude when things seem* to go well.

* sometimes we label things good or bad, but in reality, only outcomes can be assessed good or bad.

 

Image courtesy of Phil_Bird at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

16 Ramadan 2017: The Real You

Starve the ego, feed the soul – Unknown

As we approach the last days of Ramadan, it is worth looking back at the last 16 days and use the next couple of days to prepare for what it is we want, we hope, and we seek for the next year and beyond.

The last 10 days are special because those who fast this month believe that there is one special night that is bestowed on people who are genuine in their actions of worship, love and charity bringing great blessings with it where angels surround earth, the skies and the heavens above. It is also in this special night that our destinies for the next year are revealed, may they be great.

Reflection is key to this preparation as we have had 16 days to really see who we really are as fasting and the fasting month expose our souls in ways that are often more challenging day to day as we are busy at work, home, friends, and life more generally.

How were you with people? Did you gossip? Did you hurt someone with your words or actions?

How did you feel about people? Envious? Hoping for them what you hope for yourself?

How were you with your family? Your children? Were you angry? Were you kind and merciful?

How were you with money? Did you waste it? Did you share it with others through gifts and generosity?

How were you with work? Did you complete tasks with excellence?

How were you with god? Did you seek forgiveness for the *not so proud* things you did? Did you ask for all the things you want?

Ramadan is not about limiting food and drink, ramadan is about seeing who we truly are and working on what needs to improve and thanking god for the lovely qualities we have.

 

 

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

15 Ramadan 2017: Control

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you. – Brian Tracy

I spoke about destiny in an earlier post, in a larger sense, it is about letting go of events and matters in our lives that we cannot control.

Whether it is a child who is adamant about disrespecting, or a person determined to bring negativity to others, or natural disasters or acts of war, or even a bankrupted employer, these are all matters that we cannot control whatsoever.

What we can control however, is how we respond to them and more specifically, responding assertively to events out of our reach or influence.

The first step is to never blame oneself.

The second is to to recognize that just because a certain undesirable event is happening,  it does not mean that I am a victim of it without any say in how I can reduce its impact on myself and my loved ones.

The third step is to seek the learning and the change that is meant to happen within me as a result of me experiencing or witnessing this event for nothing is by chance.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net