Friday, December 20, 2013

Rebranding or not?

My blog is around 4 yrs old now. I think bloggers sometimes wonder is anyone still interested? Have I or my blog become boring, stale, old ? Everything around us is fast, changing, new, different or you're out! Must we all be Madonna to stay cutting edge? I think not! Must we try to be like others who are more popular? Only if their popularity is somehow tied to good Islamic deeds and we should only envy two; the one who has more knowledge and the one who has more money and gives it away in charity. Otherwise we shouldn't fool ourselves. We are born with our unique personalities which we had when we were even souls and our bodies too come from different parts of the earth and have an impact upon us. This is all sound islamic knowledge. We need to be gentle with ourselves. Can we be interesting and cool and still Muslim of course but we must never sacrifice suratul mustaquim for all that jazz and sparkle. Its a balancing act. People are basically the same person all their lives ie since I was in grade 3 I wanted to do cake decorating, so here on my blog you will see how I went to cake decorating classes. However, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would become a Muslim, but I always cared about religion. People who are going to like you are going to like you for the good in you no matter how sparkly or shiny you are. You may not have the best pics or the most interesting blog and maybe you don't update that often but people who really care about what you have to say will remain true. Hang tough fellow bloggers. You have a unique voice and a unique perspective, people want to hear you, let yourself shine!

Because your blog, your blog is on my list
Because your blog, your blog, I can't resist

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Owning Calamity
Al-Shura (The Consultation) Chapter 42: Verse 30
"And whatever misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much."
It is against the scientific way of thinking to oversimplify complicated issues, underrate serious issues, view difficult problems with an alarming superficiality or deal with major issues with the mentality of the uneducated and the practices of the dervishes.
It is detrimental to our thinking that we should see behind anything that we do not like those invisible hands and evil foreign powers that had masterminded our plight wickedly and waited patiently until we stepped into the trap of our own accord. This may be true in some cases, but it is wrong to generalize it. Explaining events in our history to be the results of schemes and conspiracies, regardless of whether the events in our countries are political, economic, social or cultural, only bears two bad fruits:
Firstly, if such a feeling escalates, it breeds a sense of fatalism that there is nothing we can do about these satanic schemes because of the gigantic financial and intellectual capabilities of the forces of them and because of our own weaknesses and shortcomings. This way, we become "chessmen on a chessboard" and such a feeling would breed only despair and a destructive sense of defeat.
Secondly, this attitude prevents us from self­-criticism and precludes any sincere attempt to understand our deficiencies, remedy our ailments or examine our failures and sins. It impedes any effort to look for the causes of our diseases so that we may find a cure for them. This situation will remain as long as any deficiency, neglect, corruption or ruin is seen as the result of a devious foreign scheme, not as the consequence of our own behaviour.
We had often adopted this attitude despite the fact that the Quran teaches us to blame only ourselves whenever we are met by a misfortune or are the target of a calamity or a defeat, as Allah the Almighty mentions in the above verse.
Compiled From:
"Priorities of The Islamic Movement in The Coming Phase" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 115,116

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Sobering Reality
The travels of a believer may be very long before he meets his Lord. Along the way, there are many things that may distract him. There are even enemies along the path. Satan, for example, is ever ready to take the believer away from the path. Therefore, the believer who is on this journey must always be seeking Allah's guidance and His help to keep him moving in the right direction. Any straying from that path could be disastrous; his end may come suddenly and he may never have the chance to return to the straight path. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), has awakened the believers to that sobering reality by his example of constantly making the following supplication,
"O the One who Turns the Hearts, confirm my heart upon your religion." [Tirmidhi]
Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, p. 1547

Beyond Headlines
When you see violence in other parts of the world portrayed on the evening news, do you look at the rage and hatred in people's faces, or do you ask yourself about the distress that has inspired this anger? Make a habit of looking behind the headlines to the ordinary people who are affected by a crisis. Remember that they did not choose to be born into that part of the world. Like you, they simply found themselves in a particular situation and may have been forced to conduct their lives in a context of violence, deprivation, and despair.
We know from our own experience that deeds have long-term consequences. We are all affected, consciously and unconsciously, by the unkindness, neglect, contempt, and violence we have endured in the past. This is also true of whole nations: persecution, chronic warfare, bad governance, exploitation, marginalization, occupation, humiliation, enslavement, exile, impoverishment, and defamation all leave psychic scars that persist long after the event. They affect the way the new generation is brought up and can infiltrate the religious, intellectual, ethical, and social development of a country. People who have been taught to despise themselves cannot easily respect others. Those who have been brutalized by hatred, persecution, or oppression cannot cultivate the trust that makes it possible to reach out to others. We should ask whether our own nation has contributed to the problems of a particular region and realize that, in our global world, if we ignore the pain of a people, it is likely that at some point this negligence will rebound on us.
Compiled From:
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 150, 151

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Love of Wealth
An-Adiyat (The Courses) Chapter 100: Verse 8
"Verily the love of wealth is strong."
Every man is created with a natural love of wealth for its own sake. He is naturally endowed with a love of possession and with a desire to retain what he possesses. There is no harm in the competition that arises from these natural inclinations for it encourages every man to give of his best so that he is zealous to work and to earn, and he both wants and needs such work. He is not conscious of being forced to work, and hence he does not expend his labour grudgingly or hopelessly. But in the end it is society that profits from his labour and his toil. Islam lays down principles that will ensure that profit to society and that will make it certain that no harm can arise from such complete freedom of individual or from the ratification of his right of personal possession.
Justice demands that the social system shall conform to the desires of the individual and satisfy his inclinations – at least so far as will not injure society – as a return for his contribution to it in the way of ability and labour, in the sweat of his brow, in the labour of his thought, and in the exertion of his nerves. Justice is the greatest of the foundations of Islam, but justice is not always concerned to serve the interests of the individual. Justice is for the individual, but it also is for society.
Compiled From:
"Social Justice in Islam" – Sayyid Qutb, pp. 130, 131

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Blocked from Generosity
The two authoritative collections contain the hadith narrated by Abu Huraira, who said, “The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) depicted the miserly and the charitable person as two men in robes of iron that bind their hands to their chests and throats. Every time the charitable person gives something, the robe loosens until it hangs by his mere fingertips and erases his tracks. And every time the miserly person thinks of giving (but holds back), it tightens, every coil of the robe in its place.” At this point, Abu Huraira said, “And as he spoke, I saw the Messenger of God put his fingers in his robe and make as if to loosen a garment that would not loosen” [Bukhari, Muslim].
The miserly man is blocked from generosity and kept back from good deeds. And he receives the same in return. His breast is constricted, unable to expand. His stomach contracts. His soul is small, and his happiness paltry. But his cares and woes are many. Rarely will he help the needy or the beggar. He is indeed like a man in a robe of iron, his hands so bound to his neck that he can neither move them nor free them. Whenever he tries, the coils spring back in place. For whenever such a man wishes to give, his miserliness holds him back and his heart remains imprisoned.
Compiled From:
"The Invocation of God" - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, p. 38

If we are going to recognize and accept what makes us human, including our imperfections and less-than-extraordinary lives, we must embrace our vulnerabilities. This is extremely difficult, because we are afraid to be vulnerable. We equate vulnerability with weakness, and in our culture, there are very few things we abhor more than weakness.
It is extremely painful to share a vulnerability or fear with someone, only to have them use it against us as an insult, as leverage in an argument or as a fodder for gossip. However, the need to reach out and talk about our experiences can be a strong force. So strong, in fact, that it sometimes leads us to purging with people whom we have not developed the kind of relationship that can absorb that information.
When it comes to sharing information, it would be nice to believe that most of us have the ability to recognize the right people, the right times and the right ways to share. But alas, the reality is that most of us have turned to people we barely know and thrown up vulnerability all over them.
When it comes to sharing vulnerability, it’s wise to take time to test whether the other person is worthy of hearing our stories and to assess our own level of safety and comfort in sharing sensitive material. We want to trust that the other person isn’t going to deny and minimize our pain, or alternatively, overfocus on our problem in an unhelpful way. We don’t want to be put down, pitied, or gossiped about, nor do we want to have sensitive information used against us.
Compiled From:
"I Thought It Was Just Me" - Brene Brown, pp. 205-207

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Getting Rewarded
An-Nahl (The Bee) Chapter 16: Verse 35
"The worshippers of false gods say: ‘If Allah had so Willed, we should not have worshipped aught but Him, neither we nor our fathers, nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His.’ So did those who went before them. But are Messengers charged with aught but to preach the clear message?"
It is false to argue that we should have been compelled to follow guidance, because Allah gave us the freedom to choose belief and righteousness and equipped us with everything necessary for this purpose in accordance with His Divine Will, so that out of our own free will we could choose and abide by truth and virtue and then get our reward.
This leads us to two important results:
1) If Allah had guided aright all men and prevented them from doing any wrong or committing any sin, which Allah could easily have done, this would have transformed human beings into angels and rendered all their human responsibilities and obligations meaningless since these require freedom of choice and action.
2) When people try to absolve themselves of their obligations on the pretext that they are helpless in the face of Divine Will, they in fact reject the blessing with which Allah has honoured them – the blessing of free will. This is nothing short of rejecting the pattern fixed for human nature by the higher Will of Allah. In such a case man could not rightfully hope for any reward for following and obeying Him. None of these false assertions is supported by any factual evidence in life. And both the Quran and the Hadith explicitly and conclusively reject and repudiate them.
Compiled From:
"Freedom and Responsibility in Quranic Perspective" - Hasan Al-Anani, pp. 138-139

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Lover of Humanity
The man destined to be the Messenger to all humanity and the leader of all humanity was endowed by Allah with a great love for all people, black or white, red or yellow – a love for people without discrimination. In his farewell sermon to the Muslim community, Muhammad, peace be upon him, declared: “All of you descend from Adam and Adam was made of earth. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab over an Arab; neither for a white person over a black person nor a black person over a white person except the superiority gained through God-consciousness (taqwa). Indeed the noblest among you is the one who is most deeply conscious of God.” This great love was indispensable for such a great task as his. Without this great love for humanity, he could not have led people upon the prolonged and patient path towards the great Truth, towards the liberation of mankind from the worship of false deities to the worship of Allah, the True Divinity.
As an insight on this point, recall a rare situation the Prophet faced. When he was abandoned in Makkah by his near relatives through hatred and enmity to his cause, when he was persecuted under the violation and the tyranny of Quraysh, what did he do? He said to his Lord, “O Allah! May you forgive my people, for they are ignorant, they do not know the Truth.
Compiled From:
"Islam: The Way of Revival Vol 1" – The Way of The Prophet: Muhammad Qutb, pp. 129-130

The monotheistic religions did not base their teachings on the sciences, and the psychologists and psychoanalysts of the late nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth tried to formulate theories and establish methodologies on the basis of experiments they were able to analyse by examining the behaviour of their patients. And yet all these approaches make the same observations and strive to achieve a similar objective: no matter whether their message is based upon moral principles, the aspiration to inner freedom or even the desire to achieve a psychological equilibrium, the goal is always to achieve and maintain mastery and control over one’s emotions and passions. They are beyond our control, and the task of philosopher, initiate, believer or patient is to become aware of the indeterminate element within himself or herself and to understand, insofar as that is possible, how that element functions in an attempt to control it and thereby attain an inner harmony.
Our emotions are often beautiful, but they can also be dangerous. They represent our spontaneity and seem to speak to us of our freedom. And yet all contemporary studies – from neurology and psychology to marketing – prove that our emotions are the form of self-expression over which we have least control, that they are highly vulnerable and, basically, easily manipulated. Advertising, music, atmospheres, subliminal messages and films can have an impact on our emotional life, and we cannot control it because we are not even conscious of it. In effect, he who can know and master its functioning and psychology from outside can become twice its master.
Compiled From:
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 113-115