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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Milestones of the Heart III: Addiction

Posted by Sara at 2:17 PM 2 comments Links to this post
In the past posting, Milestones of the Heart I, we started discussing our personal weaknesses in the gray area where right and wrong are questionable. On our long path, leaving behind the darkness of clear sin, and moving ahead to the brightness of the light of purity, we reach this middle area of the heart, where weakness is individualised. Each of us has their own flaws that hinder us from advancing. In this article, we are going to explore one kind of these flaws that spreads over a wide gray area. This time we will talk about addiction.

Addiction as we know it is the chronic exposure to a certain substance that results in a fake and temporary feeling of happiness, zeal, or relaxation (etc.). Getting used to such a behaviour leads to physical and/or psychological dependence. Deprivation or Stopping this behavioural disorder exposes the addict to various types of suffering, usually of a high emotional intensity in the forms of irritation, anger, depression, etc. In moments of revelation, when the addict is partially free from the overwhelming effect of the addicted substance, a mixed feeling of love-hate is usually aroused. This complex feeling is when a person loves another person/object, but hates oneself for it or feels ashamed of such dependence.

Addiction is not only of narcotics or alcohol. As civilised people, who are expected to know better, we can fall for addiction without noticing. Any extreme attachment ranging from being too attached to concepts, hobbies, food, habits, important figures, friends and close ones, can legitimately be labelled as types of addiction. When any sort of activities or behaviours is becoming harmful, starting to have a drastic and overwhelming effect on you, or causes psychological dependence that deprives you from leading a normal life with the absence of this factor, be honest with yourself; know that you are becoming an addict.

There are various factors that determine the probability of falling into the pit of addiction, and for falling for one kind of addiction rather than others. Addiction is the result of a character flaw, and consequently the type of addiction that is most probable is determined by this particular weakness. Other factors like age, social and cultural surroundings are recognised as determining causes of addiction.

Leaving aside this scientific introduction, and looking at the situation from a rather personal angle, let us put our hands on our defects. Let us first see how we can look ourselves in the eye, and see where our addiction might be hiding. We might be conscious of our weak points, but at other times they may be hidden inside and we usually fear to unlock them lest they take over and lead our lives. In order to get to the bottom of it, we need to first know where our problem is coming from. To do so, let us name all our passions and interests, be that time one spends with a favoured friend, loyalty to a football team, overwhelming passion towards a certain person, attachment to one's job, shopping, online surfing, gaming, eating, etc. Each of us knows, even if we do not think about it, but we do know, what our favoured things are.

Then we need to ask ourselves some questions. On a scale of priorities, what comes first? Put in mind that you should also include your other important priorities, like you family life, your job, your spiritual life, etc. How do you feel when you do your favoured thing? What happens to you when it ends abruptly, when it is late or unavailable for some reason? Generally, does it affect your mood, relations and life pattern? Do you suspend anything else, when it comes to your favoured thing? Does other people think you are exaggerating in favouring this particular person/ activity? Do you think your attachment to it is justified? Do you feel it is out of your hands sometimes and that you have no control on how you feel or behave? Most importantly, what would happen to you if you lose this favoured thing?

The first key to change is self-knowledge. God has created man free. We imprison ourselves in our passions and allow them to lead our minds and determine our actions. We allow our obsessions to torture us, and we have no one else to blame but ourselves. Changing is not easy, but sometimes it cannot be escaped. Addiction is usually accompanied by bad temper, pain and floppy moods, and it can go to the extreme of self destruction. Even if our favoured things are legitimate and lawful and beautiful, with extremity we turn them into ugly wrong deeds. We simply destroy the emotional balance that allows us to appreciate the other facets of happiness, by putting too much stress on one factor taking from the emotional reserve that should be distributed between other lawful pleasures and priorities. There is no wonder then that Islam orders us to be moderate in everything we do. The path of moderation protects us from falling in the pit of extremism that is naturally catastrophic.

If we move on to the spiritual aspect of this issue we will have to stop at a very important concept; our relationship with God. In order to realise the concept of faith, one's heart should normally be directed towards God's love as the utmost reason for living. The very reason why we were ordered to love God and His Prophet more than anything or anyone in the world is absolute mercy. This is because God would never turn you down. Worshipping Him is not of a momentary effect or a fading pleasure. It is the sense of safeness and the resolute belief that He is here to stay, that you would never lose the bond you build with Him Almighty, as long as you are preserving it with all your force. The relationship with God is never ending; the more you give into it the more you take out of it. The endless way of God is also a series of stages and startling discoveries. When you attempt to advance in His way, God takes your hand and draws you near. The amazing part of this rich relationship is that no matter how involved you are in it, this sense of attachment can never harm you. On the contrary, it feeds your soul and lightens your earthly burden.

God is indeed the Ultimate Trustee, whom you can depend on with no fear, whom you can reach out to knowing that He will always be there. Unlike any earthly bond that can end or change or vanish, crushing you with the sense of loss or disappointment. A part of the human nature is to never get enough; we always aspire for more. We try to train ourselves to realise the value of contentment and tame our souls with satisfaction, but it is not always doable. Thus, it all depends on what you want. It is not possible to lock ourselves out of all human relationships or hobbies or interests; it is the degree of importance that really matters. Exaggerated attachment to secular needs leads to more want, where nothing is good enough or even here to stay. On the other hand, you can get attached to the Lord as much as you may, and be sure that you will be overwhelmed with endless light and infinite bounty.

Put your heart on the right track. Do not be an addict of this earth, because we are soon leaving it behind, on our path towards the Ultimate Truth.

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2009 THEME: Islam in the West and Our Children (Discussion & Resources regularly updated)

There is increasing concern that second and third generation Muslims in the West are mostly no longer Muslims so they actually end up adding to the Christian or Atheist population of the West, albeit racially from a non-Western origin. Accordingly, the ratios mentioned in the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU) would be correct in regards to race or ethnicity but not necessarily to religion.

It is a grave danger facing our children and grand children from a real life stand point as statistically only 1/5 of the second generation stay really Muslims when they grow up and are independent and almost non from the third generation are Muslims. And that is why the Western authorities are still permitting the immigration of Muslims inspite of the figures provided in the above video. They know that on the long term the descendants of Muslims in the West leave Islam because their parents raised them up with an Eastern mentality in a Western society instead of an Islamic mentality that encompasses all cultures.

You can see more about that by Jeffrey Lang; an ex-atheist American Mathematics University Professor who reverted to Islam in 1982. He has also written 3 books that I highly recommend; "Struggling to Surrender", "Even Angels Ask" and "Losing my Religion; A Call for Help".
Now I will leave you to enjoy 2 short excerpts from one of his lectures followed by links to his most important full presentation regarding our children.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmqN75NI0xg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT1KGyxBXC0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMANKaX8khw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgivQJKtQME
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga2rIUWcPPs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYb2v3Yx1LY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhMN_TZavW0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHeM0H0EMAw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD-YefJH9x0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2eVOKjOqHE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBQp7aZjxjc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4_xxQVGU44

Here is a solution that is yet to be implemented.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geRM4AlFBOU&NR=1

Raising children here is not an easy task ofcourse but if we do it the right way they will be true Muslims in shaa Allaah who are "Informed Muslims" rather than "Muslims by inheritance" like their counterparts in the East. Hopefully they will then be a much better generation than ours.

Quickly, I do believe that the best 4 authors (for example, there are many others but these are my favorite) who could guide us through this difficult process are Yahiya Emerick, Jeffrey Lang, Jamal Badawi and Dalia Mogahed.

Here are some links for future reference and for an ongoing learning process that I have started collecting slowly.
Please spread the below information to all your Muslim contacts in the West.

Jeffrey Lang:
http://meccacentric.com/jeffrey_lang.html I highly recommend the lecture titled "The Purpose of Life". It has true meanings that I have not come across in any Arabic literature.

Yahiya Emerick:
Articles:
http://www.islamicedfoundation.com/articles/articles.htm
http://www.islamfortoday.com/yahiyaemerick.htm I highly recommend reading and spreading the last article in this link by the name of "The Confusion of the Scholars"
Books:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_adv_b/?search-alias=stripbooks&unfiltered=1&field-keywords=&field-author=Yahiya+Emerick&field-title=&field-isbn=&field-publisher=&node=&url=&field-feature_browse-bin=&field-binding_browse-bin=&field-subject=&field-language=&field-dateop=&field-datemod=&field-dateyear=&sort=relevancerank&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.x=29&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.y=8 There are only 14 books, about half for adults and the other half for kids. The extra are just repetitions.

Jamal Badawi:
Many products including books, articles and lectures mostly for adults. You can find them by searching his name online. My favorite is;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMfWURGcvBI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HXGRYaUy6g
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyMD_tE6U68
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AixgiXpAFTY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WUgbgLgMXM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3VLRoQ3qUw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5UvvkCDrm4

Dalia Mogahed: (Obama's adviser)
Has one book so far but has a great potential. "Who Speaks for Islam".
You can watch her debate with Irshad Manji (an openly Lesbian Canadian Muslim who is distorting the picture of Islam in the name of "Progressive Islam")http://fora.tv/2008/07/01/Irshad_Manji_and_Dalia_Mogahed_-_Who_Speaks_for_Islam

Finally here is a website for a store that sells lots of Islamic products including Islamic cartoon DVDs in English and Arabic for kids.
http://www.astrolabe.com/category/17/Cartoons_and_KidVid.html?sid=ceb7c5cf8de15b8f1cb92ad29e183a44
 

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