28 Ramadan 2017: The Power of Prayer and Remembrance

In my deepest, darkest moments, what really got me through was a prayer. Sometimes my prayer was ‘Help me.’ Sometimes a prayer was ‘Thank you.’ What I’ve discovered is that intimate connection and communication with my creator will always get me through because I know my support, my help, is just a prayer away. – Iyanla Vanzant

In these last 48 to possibly 72 hours of this blessed month, I urge myself and others to focus on asking god to help us find a way out of our challenges, bring us more of what blessings we seek and help us get closer to his mercy, wisdom and love.

Prayer is so powerful when done right; with honesty, goodness, purity of heart and intentions, along with a sense of certainty that our prayers will be answered.

Prayer through remembrance brings us closer to our creator, transcending all moments of despair as we reflect on god’s attributes and names.

Find a quiet space and focus on reaching as far up as possible with your soul and heart … ask him for peace, acceptance and tranquility within your heart that you can take with you everywhere you go and in every situation you encounter.

Ask him.

 

 

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9 Ramadan 2016: “How are you?”, Connecting while away

Invisible threads are the strongest ties.― Friedrich Nietzsche

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I was traveling recently and something occurred to me, one of the things that I consistently did while traveling is to speak and connect with those who live in the city I visit. I didn’t do it purposely but something always nudged me.

I did this by simply asking, “how are you?”, “how are things”?

It could be the cab driver, the hotel employee, the coffee barista, etc… simply anyone. I have rarely been let down … in fact, even when I am let down and someone is abrupt and short, it gives me a view of the city and its people.

Why is this important?

It connects us with the world and reminds us about how small we are and how large the Universe is leading to humility, empathy, acceptance and more importantly, love … yes, love.

It makes one love the fact that the world is small and what worries someone 3,000 km away is that as what worries someone 1 meter away. It makes one love others for being normal and human. It makes one love their own destiny as they hear others’ destinies.

I have learned a lot in my travels … and while seeing the local sights and museums is important, nothing beats connecting with others like traveling.

 

 

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22 Ramadan 2014: What lasts?

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” – C.S. Lewis

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2Think about it? Has any wealth ever lasted for anyone? Has any health ever lasted for anyone? Has your life been free of any sad moments? Has your life been free of any calamities? Has anyone ever stayed alive?

The point is when all these changing matters go on in one’s life, any intelligent and logical person could see that no one and nothing ever lasts but what we do know is that there is an end. It is too illogical for for our lives to end just there, in fact, I would say it is even unjust as those who suffered in life must somehow see happiness and those who did made bad choices must somehow pay for their wrongdoings. so there must be something afterwards and whatever that something is, it must be the only stable thing lasting throughout the generations of human kind.

To me, this only thing is god and in his grace and mercy, is the one who lets the sun rise and sun set, the trees grow and the clouds rain. Never in the life of humanity has anyone been able to get to the core of creation without relying on any other creation, for example, if one places a seed in the earth to grow an apple tree, one needs to water it to grow. So where did the seed come from? Another pre-existing apple? and so on … so when was the first seed???? it had to come from somewhere that existed in the beginning and that will exist in the end.

May god make us see all the signs of continuity and discontinuity in life and be able to learn from them in being able to live a happier and more serene life.

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11 Ramadan 2014: Even Better

“A good deed is a good deed” – John Lee Hancock

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I liked this quote because it simply explains how any good is good … aaaannndddd?

The definition of a good deed can be portrayed by faith and other philosophical views of morality and ethics. Central to a lot of Scholarly thoughts and views in Islam and for those fasting Ramadan is the concept of “no intended harm and no unintended harm (1)” quoted by the Prophet PBUH, in other words, all forms of possible harm irrespective of the benefits, direct or indirect. Another supplementary concept related to the thought today, is the concept of intentions where “one’s own actions are judged by one’s own original intention (2)”, in other words, if one aims to do bad, what they do is bad and if one aims to do good, what they do is good.

So, what is a good deed? Anything that does not cause any intended or intended harm where the original intention was good and as a result, it is not always possible to correctly judge other people’s actions especially if what they do does not cause harm, have good intentions but actions do not necessarily make a large, noticeable positive change.

The call to action is to watch our intentions, and study our actions before we take them, aware of the possible harm and if unintended harm is done, then one learns, improves and repeats … sustaining the good and making the good, even better.

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(1) Nawawi Hadith #32
(2) Nawawi Hadith #1

26 Ramadan 2012: Times of the Brand

To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you noticed the vast number of advertising or company slogans, accomplishments and press releases, new products, companies, highly popular people who are popping up everywhere? We try to give all the benefit of doubt focusing on the positives or at least, being neutral. Over time however, we found that this is worth a thought and we like to refer to it as the times of the brand.

Brands, be it symbols, slogans or persons, obviously bring across the right feelings, reactions and become representative of the concepts at hand signifying the beneficiaries themselves, i.e. the concept that a brand embodies the person. People recognise and affiliate with them. However, they also hold a high responsibility towards people who hold them in high regard including and not limited to companies, products, authorities, bodies, institutions, or persons. The issue is that as brands take a higher precedence, quality has taken an opposite turn, and instead of focusing on beneficiaries, the focus is on profit and loss, popularity, perception and competition.

Our fear is that unless one really sees, one will be dragged into the chaos and superficiality of it all when completing a service, buying a product, setting up a business, meeting people, etc… which not only misleads one in terms of worth and value, but also may bring along unfairness and a perception of ease or difficulty to people with dreams and goals leading to either unnecessary losses or hesitation to do something good.

May god give us the ability to see beyond brands and use whatever talents and capabilities we have to build and innovate businesses, products and processes … with a focus on people … for the benefit of people … by the best yet most humble people.

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23 Ramadan 2012: Thirds

A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one. – Rita Mae Brown

We face major and critical decisions quite often in our lives that pull us in two different directions. We have talked about this in a few of our previous posts directly or indirectly, however, its’ resurfacing in our practical life alerts us that we must deal with it again before the month is over.

There is the first standard case where hesitancy is due to missing information we have at hand to decide on the road that brings us closer to god which also results in the greatest goodness for ourselves (life and hereafter) and more generally, humanity.

The second case that we came to realize is one where hesitancy is present because of an incomplete decision ‘package’ at hand. In other words, instead of pondering over two roads for a decision, we need to be able to recognize that there is always a third option that combines the two and hence, becomes the decision itself.

We ask god to grant us the ability to ‘see’, assess, and accept the roads that are provided to us in our lives and remain open-minded to those ‘thirds’.

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21 Ramadan 2012: Clarity

That’s the way things come clear – all of a sudden. Then you realize how obvious they’ve been all along. – Madeline L’Engle

Our search so far has been focused on the ‘how’ of inner peace and today, we decided to look at it from a different perspective, the perspective of ‘when’, i.e. when do we know we are there.

Our thought process went as follows:

When do we know we have inner peace?

… When things and matters around us become clear.

When do we know we have sustainable inner peace?

… When irrespective of how difficult or complex things or matters get, we establish clarity.

When do we know that we have established clarity?

… When we deal with decisions and situations in a systematic, courageous, patient and calm manner.

When do we know we are dealing with decisions and situations in the systematic manner above?

… When the frame of reference is known, priority in life is clear, and optimum knowledge is in our hands.

When do we know all these things?

… When we know who we are, why we are here and reflect (both heart and mind) on all things around us.

What seems to have happened is that there is somehow a draft definition of what sustainable inner peace is … it is when we know who we are, why we are here and reflect on all things around us irrespective of how difficult or complex things or matters get. 

We are curious to see how this aligns with what we end up with at the end of the blessed month.

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8 Ramadan 2012: Neverneverending

Work is hard. Distractions are plentiful. And time is short. – Adam Hochschild

Distracting distractions distracting a distracting life … this is what came to our mind to truly reflect our days today, many call it “life”, really?

We find ourselves surrounded by needs, requirements, status updates, necessaries, news, etiquettes, events, shows, tags, and the list goes on. There is then two parts to this story, a part where these “surroundings” make us perceive that we are progressing well in life and another part where these “surroundings” seem to never end and make us feel like we are lost and overwhelmed. In fact we even wonder if there is a relationship between the amount of distractions and material possessions/actions/drivers we have, such that in order to minimize distractions, one must minimize materialism.

Our guess is that in both cases, the only way to know is by reflecting against, a good, well worth it life purpose and with too many distractions, sustainable inner peace becomes even more of a challenge. We ask god, on this blessed night, to bless us with forgiveness and self-forgiveness, remembrance, a steady heart and a will to elevate as we approach the end of the first third of mercy in Ramadan.

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3 Ramadan 2012: Beyond

A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work if it isn’t open.” – Frank Zappa

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How true is that? We have read many sentences, seen many people, and observed a multitude of moments, yet we only seem to understand them when we decide that they didn’t have to conform to our own thoughts and ideals. Today, was one of those days.

After observation, the best way to learn is to reflect, decide and implement, and we found that we lose that capability when we are not open to seeing or hearing, when we are adamant that “I am right” or when we are adamant that “people are wrong”, or that “my ideals are THE ideals”. Both our minds and our hearts (for that matter) remain closed and we are not able to see beyond our own restrictive boundaries.

During this blessed month, I ask god to bless us all with openness and the ability to see beyond cliches, beyond headlines, beyond ideals, and fight our natural urge to rebel, for we never know which observation, person, or sentence, will be a source of inner peace and an answer to our prayers.

Ramadan 24: Who will?

We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path. – Paulo Coelho

How many times have we caught ourselves judging others so quickly we end up feeling extremely bad afterwards? We personally have … and we learned quite a big lesson from it.

People always assume that those who walk around with frowns on their face are simply angry people. Or those who take their kids with them everywhere are disorganised and lazy. Or those who look sad all the time are ungrateful. Or those who bully others or are mean to them are simply stuck up. The list goes on …

We learned over time that although some people are simply angry, lazy, ungrateful and stuck up, the majority of them simply have worries and circumstances that we don’t know about. Worries that take quite a heavy toll on people and some more than others. So instead of judging, maybe we should consider that there could be a reason behind their behaviour that is beyond ours. As this thought eludes to, we will never know  EXACTLY what and how people feel … all we will ever know is how WE feel and how WE see people.

If we don’t support each other and give each other a break, who will?