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Monday, January 21, 2008

kaleidoscope

Posted by Watermark at 2:41 AM 2 comments Links to this post
Every once in a while, you get to see a snapshot of the true magnitude of life. It varies. You could be utterly happy all the time or profoundly sad. Yet, the snapshot only allows you to see a raw truth; the reality of life.

We are lonely creatures. We are surrounded by people to keep us company in our journey through life but everything is temporary. People surrounding us are temporary. We always return to the honest snapshot, that the origin of all things is loneliness. Adam was created lonely. Eve came along to combat his loneliness. It seems that our innate strife is to continue combatting that loneliness for as long as we live. Whatever way or form, we try and keep the shadow of loneliness away from our front doors, back doors and any nooks it might seep through.

Along with an extreme fear of loneliness comes deception. In more than one way, it is another honest snapshot of life. The subtlest of all forms is self-deception. We are all guilty of it at one point of our lives or another. Creating bubbles for ourselves to live the life we seek. We truly believe the life we lead to be real and wholesome or even if unhappy we strive to create a comfort level that makes us feel satisfied. Others who know us and even those who do not, believe it. We unconsciously exude an aura of self-deception. Only God can see through to the truth and once in a while He lets us see that honest and raw snapshot of our lives.

The origin is loneliness. We have no one but Him in reality. We may comfort ourselves through deceptive means but sooner or later all things fall apart. Only then will He make us see that we truly have no one but Him.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Forgiveness; the Price of Life

Posted by Sara at 2:54 PM 2 comments Links to this post
O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? Great is hatred in the sight of God that you say what you do not do. (61 [As-Saff ]:2-3)

I wrote before about 'Embracing Change', and I preached a lot and thought that I am wise and strong enough to give advice to others. I know now that it is utter arrogance and ignorance. I thought that when change comes knocking next time that I would be ready and prepared to implement all the things I have been saying, which though seemingly right and beautiful, are definitely very hard to actually do. Very soon afterwards, I was sent a test by God, which I’ve totally failed! It was like, here you go, you talk so well, prove it! And I could not prove it, I admit. I was humbled by knowing how easy it is to talk while you are not in the midst of the struggle.

So, this time, I will not be as foolish as before, and I will descend the podium. I will not say what I cannot do. Allow me this time to talk about the concept of forgiveness, without preaching.

Forgiveness; such an easy word to say, it passes on the heart with a soothing effect that is so pleasant. It is very tempting to advise others to forgive and forget; don't we all want God to forgive our sins? Then this is a very good reason to start forgiving others ourselves. Yes, true, I agree. I kept on reading about forgiveness in the Qur'ān, and although I was very convinced, yet I still could not bring my heart to do it. A particular verse, in An-Nūr chapter (the light), moved me deeply,:
"...and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that God should forgive you? And God is Forgiving and Merciful." (24 [An-Nūr]:22)
However, when you have been deeply hurt, you will not find this in any way possible to do, even if you desperately seek God's forgiveness. Sometimes anger stiffens the heart and gives you an illusionary feeling of strength that allows more fire to burn inside and bitterness to fester and totally take over your thinking. With more anger, disappointment, and lack of relief, we harbour more darkness and negativity. Sometimes we choose not to forget, to keep the pain alive, we choose not to forgive, as a silent way of avenging for our wounds.

It is so sad to watch how we sometimes make the wrong choices, carrying such heavy hearts loaded with bitterness and an inability to forgive. Despite being ordinary people who are inherently good, we allow dispute to break us apart and ruin even the good memories that used to be. We start to feel paralyzed, unable to make things better, because of the great pain, wronging, and abuse we've been exposed to. Sometimes, we might wish things were not as bad as they were, yet remain crippled with our wounds. I have seen when death approaches, how every angry memory just fades away. How foolish it is when life is that short to give up on people and surrender. But when you can do nothing, when words lose their meanings and promises lose their glow, when you are the one who has been wronged, what shall you do? You will have to go on and work on your heart. If you are a strong person, you will not surrender to the destructive thought of revenge. Yet, you stand in a fork, with two paths ahead. In both roads life will go on, as it always does. So, you can either walk on thorns that you keep watering, or save yourself.

For a while, I have chosen the first thorny path. I became so different from the one I used to be, like a butterfly that cannot fly anymore after her wings had been touched. I could no longer have the ability to embrace life with open arms or be the joyous person I used to be, I felt so incomplete. Even after getting over the sense of loss, something inside seemed to have been broken. It is no more the wronging that keeps nagging; it is this precious lost part of me that hurts the most. It is when I lost trust, when beauty became colourless, because I am no longer… myself. With a New Year unfolding, I wished I could start with a clear heart that has no memory. Yes life goes on, in whatever shape or form, but even when it does go on, we continue to keep our wounds bleeding by stepping barefooted on the poisoned wreckage of our own hearts. Then I discovered that for me to lead a normal life, I have to get rid of the bitterness that is darkening my heart. It keeps growing pushing away all the light in its way, making everything looking bleak and colourless. I realized that for me to go on, I have to forgive first. I have to shatter the bitterness that is ruining me. Such darkness is smothering me, and I cannot carry it anymore. I choose to save myself. I do not want my heart to dry out. I do not want to end up with a heart of stone. I do not want Satan to win over me in this battle. I do not want any more loss.

"Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of God" (57 [Al-Hadīd]:16)

"Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves? But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing." (6 [Al-An'ām] :43)


Forgiveness is very hard to reach. It takes more strength than love does. It is easy to be angry; fire can eat up a whole forest in seconds, but it takes so long to put it out, and takes much longer to grow the forest back. We should learn how to reconcile with ourselves. If others do not appreciate you, learn to appreciate yourself first. If they have wronged you, do not wrong yourself by allowing bitterness to ruin your heart. Forgive others, for your own sake; for the light to befriend your heart again, for warmth to replace coldness, for beauty to overcome ugliness. God is Merciful, yet He is Just. Nothing goes down the drain, when things are left totally for Him to judge. I have learnt that anger is not strength. What takes more courage is to conquer your fear and beat your anger; to truly believe in God's comforting light, and that He will guide us throughout the journey.

"And be patient, [O Muammad], for the decision of your Lord, for indeed, you are in Our eyes. And exalt [God] with praise of your Lord when you arise." (52 [At-Tūr]:48)

"If you pardon and overlook and forgive - then indeed, God is Forgiving and Merciful."
(64 [At-Taghabun]:14)

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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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