Living by It. One lesson a day…

… from Quran. Changing slowly, but surely.

Lesson 43 – Stay? Go? What? May 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Saima @ 5:47 am

“And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).”

Surah Al-Tawbah (Surah 40), verse 122

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This Surah makes me cry. It’s called Repentance and I should feel hope more than anything else. I don’t. I feel like a hypocrite and I feel lazy. Am I truly working hard in Allah (swt)’s Cause? Can I say I’m striving hard to earn His Pleasure? I don’t want to beat around the bush anymore. The simple, obvious answer is, I’m not. I’m not doing anything except thinking about what I should be doing. There’s lots I don’t know or understand from Quran. There are a lot of questions in my head about what I read from the Quran. I plan to find answers. That’s right… I PLAN to find answers but I never really get around to DOING anything.

Right now, I’m sitting in sin city (Las Vegas, Nevada) and my faith is questioned/ questionable on a daily basis. It is truly a struggle to stay righteous but the real mystery to me now is: What is righteousness? Having been thrust into a system altogether different from what I’m used to, I’m seeing a transition from an attitude centering on submissiveness to one of exhaustive explanations/ reasonings for everything I say or do. I can tell you it’s not easy. I can tell you it’s frustrating. And I can tell you it’s confusing.

I spent the last few years shying away from anything that I thought could potentially harm me or make me question my faith. I kept away from conversations, from people, from ideas, from literature that I felt could corrupt me and just surrounded myself with safe sources of knowledge. By safe, I mean following the majority 9 times out of 10. Was it really the right way to stay righteous? HARDLY!

Basically, what I’m feeling is a desire to move from being of those who get left behind like this verse says to those who go forth and fight. I’m generally a reactive person, not proactive so I don’t know if that’s a workable desire. I feel crippled by my own inhibitions, by my own restrictions and as much as I want to break out of it, I can’t seem to.

The reason why I picked this verse in particular, is because as I sit here I wonder about the life that’s expected of you when you start living in this part of the world. I don’t think I’ll be living here but there’s somebody I love who will because she’s getting married to a nice guy in Cali. I feel like I’m going to be acting as a warner for her in a way. Knowing her, I know she’ll freak out when she comes here. Knowing her, I know she’ll find a solution… but I want her to have a hastened path to recovery from the shock that is inevitable. Reading about what goes on here, watching stuff in movies is nothing like when you start living the same things. In retrospect, yes, you think you knew but you still make mistakes and you still get confused. And it’s the transition that’s almost ugly. Either you gel with the system or you don’t, for quite a while. Gelling into the system requires a lot of you and it makes you seriously question things. Things you were told at home and things you know to be divine orders.

Everything becomes a take-the-lesser-evil option or maybe that’s how I make it for myself. One thing’s for sure – you HAVE to get out and experience things. As insanely connected and in communication we may be, as sure as we may be about what we want, what we’re capable of, we have to go out and step into dirty things and dirty circumstances to truly decide how we want to live this temporary life.

The easier path is to move away from potentially corrupt issues, like I used to. The easier path is to not argue and just nod your head when you feel like you’ve hit a redundant point in a conversation with somebody because it helps to end it. The easier path is get knocked down by the accusations that get thrown your way when you try to change an ideology that feels wrong/ unfair/ hypocritical to you. The easier path is to follow cultural norms even the ones you know are based out of convenience/ hypocrisy.

There’s one other thing that I can pick from this. The question is who CAN step into the dirt and come out clean? You can either start enjoying the dirt and start considering it to be normal because you realize your opinion about what was dirty or not was based out of a flawed concept any way. Or you can have a rigid perspective so that anywhere you go in the world, you come back thinking you were right all along possibly because you never intended to have an open mind. It can be rough… which is why dua for guidance should be a constant.

I understand that the main point of this verse is to consciously take a decision about who goes, who gets left behind in the situation that everybody is capable of going together somewhere. Kinda like leave some good ones behind, send some forth. Therefore, a lesson of democracy has been laced into one of working actively towards fighting against evil.

I understand that I hit upon various tangents to the verse here than focus on the actual verse but then everything’s a source of reflection for me today, with a wider perspective with each passing day and I must write and have other viewpoints come in for any kind of growth.

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Lesson 42 – Lose the Pride or You Lose (Big Time!) March 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Saima @ 11:43 pm
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” And your Rabb says: “Appeal to ME I will respond to (accept) your plea. In fact the people who are too proud to supplicate to ME will certainly be entered into Hell, abased (submissive, in humiliation).” “

Surah Al-Ghafir (Surah 40), verse 60

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Hmm so it’s a little frustrating when you’ve given somebody an open offer for something (a ride, a favor, piece of clothing, a shoulder to cry on) and they don’t utilize it even if that means investing in a problematic situation for themselves. I understand why one may not avail an evidently good opportunity – feeling burdensome, small, deprived are maybe some of the emotions that prevent us from it. Now it’s fine on a human level cuz most humans we interact with are weird that way… goodwill is hard to come by, purity is rarer than finding the perfect shade of turquoise shoes, ability to convince people of your generosity without ulterior motives isn’t as easy to feel or apply for that matter.

… But with God, it’s just not the same. And why would it be? He’s Pure, He’s Merciful and He’s Perfect in every sense of the word. You can go to Him for anything and everything, any time and every time, any place and every place, any hour and any day. But what happens is we usually let our pride come in between, this feeling of being able to do things OURSELVES, finding solutions OURSELVES, fixing ourselves OURSELVES, calculating and planning for the means to get what we want OURSELVES like He’s not the One making any of that happen. Now don’t misinterpret the value of human input with anything one does in getting to one’s goal… It IS critical but I feel we generally misunderstand the amount of power there is in prayer, in appealing to Him for things that are menial and things that are life-changing likewise.

The point that needs to be remembered is that first and foremost, one submits to His Absolute Power which means He’s the One who Gives, He’s the One who takes it away; one submits to His complete control over whatever we do, whatever he have. To think that I got a certain piece of gadget because I put in so many hours or so much effort is equivalent to not acknowledging His Mercy upon me in Providing me with it. Sometimes when we have to wait for things (to happen, to come to us, to play out), we interpret that as an answer, as an excuse to go about our things on our own like He’s not a part of it anymore. It’s basically just a balance between working for things that matter to us and relying on His Plan for us regardless of the outcome. It’s not easy finding a balance sometimes but nobody said it was going to be easy. Balancing IS always tricky. But deen and dunya we must always, always work to balance. It’s what we’re here for, right?

Something that I find striking in this verse is the fact that first Allah (swt) is showing His Generosity in it but then He’s ending it with a reminder of His Power and the need to submit to it lest we underestimate it while we’re headed towards hellfire.

 

Lesson 41 – My Protector March 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Saima @ 12:57 am
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“And those who take as protectors others besides Him, Allah does watch over them; and you are not the disposer of their affairs.”

Surah Ash-Shura (Surah 42), verse 6

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Of late I’m noticing how I’m losing the utter trust I used to place on Allah for most of my matters and finding different people to fill in instead. I’m meeting new people, I’m finding comfort in the old and the new ones in my life, I’m falling in love with some, out with others, I’m gravitating towards qualities I’ve always admired and holding on to this person for reason “a”, that person for reason “c” and that other person for reasons “d”, “f”, “q” etc. Of course with all this loving and discoveries comes a realization that none of these will ever come even close to perfection and that they will disappoint me and that the void I’ll feel as a consequence to those disappointments will be something I’ll have to deal with on my own. I’m not trying as hard anymore to better myself, more out of the excuse of never being able to attain perfection (in human form) than anything else; what I need to inculcate fully is the conviction that whatever I try to do will be rewarded with and the more I try, the more I’ll get CLOSE to what I admire as opposed to staying stupidly and frustratingly stagnant.

Anyway, so all these transitions of late and turbulent interactions and I hit upon this verse that talks about protection and how He’s the Only Protector really – not this friend for a certain aspect of my life, not a parent for another. I’m coming to understand that this human psyche of wanting things in tangible forms is pretty much equivalent to the losers who asked the Messengers of miracles, of signs, of proofs to convince them of the God they (the Messengers) talked about having to obey and worship. We ARE those losers and sadly enough, we seek for signs most days of the week, we seek reassurance from humans, we convince ourselves that this person or that has our back. I, for one, keep waiting for SOMETHING to happen before I can fully apply the knowledge I’m trying to gain. I either keep myself away from texts that I know will help me or I read them and not apply them because of this reason or that. EITHER WAY, I’M TOTALLY GETTING IT WRONG! I have to start doing things from today, from now on. I have to get the answers and bring changes now… and I have to do them with the understanding that all the people I’m holding on to in my life because of the beauty I see in them, well they are His CREATIONS… meaning He’s SO MUCH MORE than all that beauty combined, meaning the world should stand on one side and Him on the other. ALWAYS! Whatever I do for His pleasure will always give me more peace if only I were to truly apply that and not just talk about it. And I’m pretty sure if all I do is for His pleasure, His Mercy would translate into everything falling perfectly in place through the tests and the rewards, through the good times and the bad He Plans out for me. It’s just about placing trust in the Deity that convinces me of His unending Mercy and Protection and Friendship if I’m interpreting this correctly, not once but at least six times (48: 6, 9, 28, 31, 44, 46) in the same Surah!

If, however, and this is where it can get scary, I choose to find solace in the people He’s Blessed me with and not Him completely… I’m doomed. I won’t see it; I’ll feel great about the people in my life, the material gains He’ll still Allow to happen but soon enough my utter stupidity will become clear and my misdirections thanks to nafs and arrogance will lose all meaning just like that. Just like that! When you’ve become part of the rat race of this life you stop seeing things. My vision is blurry at the moment but I’m trying to understand and I seek His Protection, more from my own nafs than the world around me. May He Guide me better and Help me in the journey I’m trying to resume.

The reason why I’m not hitting upon the latter bit of this verse is because first I need to rid myself of the need for people and take Him as My Protector alone before wondering about other people using people and machines as fillers for the voids in their lives. Regardless, I’m not responsible for other people anyway.

 

Lesson 40 – developing discipline August 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Saima @ 9:01 pm
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Spiritual void << This is why I stopped writing here.

The gist of the video is how Muslims can be active in trying to do good,  in trying to make a difference to other people’s lives, in working with pure dedication to motivate others to stay on the righteous path – but feel no spirituality themselves. I had reached a point where I was writing and talking about incorporating the good in me, I was meeting deadlines in terms of writing every alternate day but it was getting mechanical and nothing more. Not that the blog is receiving a lot of hits, not that my words are inspiring more than a handful (if at all) but it was odd for me to be just writing and feeling nothing.

I’m back here. I’m not making promises about how regular I’m going to be – as long as I can write every alternate day,  I will. Here’s to a new start…

 

Lesson 39 – Civilized debating April 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Saima @ 2:17 am
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“And do not debate with people of the Book except in a manner that is good (courteous). But not with those of them who are oppressive (are unjust, commit kufr). And say: “We believe in what is revealed for us and what was revealed for you people. And the One we worship and the One you worship is the One Alone. And we are Musalman submitting in obedience to Him.”

Surah Al-Ankaboot (Surah 29),  verse 46

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[I feel so smart following the last post with this. Eh, it’s a coincidence.]

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to read some forums where Muslims and non-Muslims argue about who’s more right, you would know that a lot of silly things go on there. A lot of times there are forums where Muslims attack Muslims of different sects (sigh) and it’s plain foolish!

There are unauthentic lines, cuss words, personal attacks and everything else silly that you can think of.

I thoroughly enjoy reading Quran in terms of just HOW relevant it is to our day-to-day lives (except when Allah Addresses my weaknesses so pointedly)! I’ve been through the forums (not that I’ve ever actively debated… I just don’t consider myself to have enough knowledge to) and to read this verse is like concluding a story. It’s so beautiful the way we are being asked to deal with these situations, situations that are bound to arise because we take upon ourselves to divide into sects, to have so much freedom of speech that a Christian feels no remorse in calling Muslims terrorists the same way that an average Muslim thinks that all Christians are going to hell.

What are we being told?

  • Do debate.
  • But in a civilized manner. No personal attacks, no pre-conceived notions, no interrupting, no shouting, no generalizations, nothing offensive, no smashing, no banging of the table, no hair-pulling, no arrogance (now now, ALL Muslims think they are higher in the hierarchy… even if they lie, cheat, drink; even if the opposing party believes in one God and is abstinent).
  • DON’T debate with those are doing the above and/ or saying things about your Creator that anger you and nothing else.
  • But don’t move away without explaining what you’re about… which is believing in ONE God; which is S U B M I T T I N G in obedience to Him; which is believing all that there is in Quran; which is believing that the Books revealed earlier were by Him only, that they commanded the same things as in Quran until the the believers adulterated them.
 

Lesson 38 – Senseless Debating April 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Saima @ 2:13 am
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“And there is one among human beings who argues about Allah without knowledge, and follows every rebellious rejected shaitaan; about whom it is written that it is without doubt anyone who befriends him then he will in fact mislead that person, and will then guide him towards punishment by Fire.”

Surah Al-Hajj (Surah 22), verse 3, 4

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Sometimes, I feel like I’m talking here without knowledge. The saving grace is that I’m using Quran as my guide. Aside from the fact that I’m not arguing about Allah.

When I started this blog, I had some atheists in mind, who I felt could make some use of this. I’ve seen some of their conversations.

I’ve generally noticed atheists are very verbose and very strict about following what they consider logic. They use devilish analogies and disturbing facts and pointless arguments that they are somehow able to bring together and drive the most faithful into self-doubt. It’s amazing, to be honest. I mean how do they do it? How do they bring in so many pointlessnesses in such a manner to actually sway me in?

One of their arguments is that atheists and agnostics live without the selfish want of a heaven as opposed to believers who wouldn’t be nice if they weren’t being given the incentive of pleasures in the Hereafter. See how distorted that is? But if you dug deeper into their arguments and for the love of God, don’t… you would actually think about those words and have a different perspective on things that used to come naturally to you a little earlier.

Their verbosity combined with a fearless, rebellious attitude that is oh-so-appealing at some ages, at some points in life is what wakes up the weaknesses in us mortals.

So, if you don’t want to get burned like mad, stay away from those mad conversations that are labeled as “intellectual” by many a confused ignoramuses.

 

Lesson 37 – Keeping promises April 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Saima @ 2:10 am
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“And mention about Isma’eel from the Book. He was indeed one who was true to his promise.”

Surah Maryam (Surah 19), verse 54

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What’s ticked me off this time around is the way people break their promises. Actually that’s what ticks me off every time. And ticking me off takes time and lotsa lotsa incidents and people and manipulations.

So many people I know manipulate their words, make false promises, twist and turn things to benefit their cause(s), say things in a manner that reveals the true intention much later, lie. AND. IT. DRIVES. ME. MAD.

Sure there’s the ultimate circumstances-are-not-the-same excuse but you can spot a false promise from a mile. Unless you’re as stupid as I am. Who believes people’s words if she likes ’em enough. I HATE PEOPLE NOW. Okay no, that’s just a dramatic line.

But, seriously. Now that I’ve mentioned Isma’eel (raw) to you, please try to keep your promises like he did. And, you know, not lie from now on? Everybody knows lying is wrong but everybody still does it. It’s better to not promise anything and stay quiet and create a rather awkward moment sometimes than fill a conversation with feel-good possibly impossible claims only to have one laughing at the premature deal later on and the other silently screaming over the mental violation.