Living by It. One lesson a day…

… from Quran. Changing slowly, but surely.

Lesson 39 – Civilized debating April 23, 2010

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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

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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

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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.

 

Lesson 36 – Incessant Thanklessness April 17, 2010

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“Have you not observed people who reciprocated Allah’s rewards by being (thankless) disbelievers, and have landed their community in a home in the abyss; Hell; to burn therein, and a terrible place to live in.”

Surah Ibrahim (Surah 14), verse 28, 29

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Oh God! That’s me.

And I am in a kind of hell these days.

Allah’s rewards on me are too many. I stop seeing them when I decide that I don’t want to. Best way to deal with this is to see the worldly conditions of those below me and the spiritual heights of the ones above me. It can be very calming and productive if I make that choice for myself.

I’ve noticed that arrogance, thanklessness and laziness are the ways to my heart when shaitaan wants to get extra friendly. He wins way too many times but I’m not going to be knocked down anymore. I’ll get up with a new resolve every time insha’Allah. I can never be thankful enough for His Favors upon me, one of them being His Mercy in that I can seek forgiveness and I can try to become better every time I slip, every time I show ingratitude. Subhanallah!

This thanklessness is mentioned so many times in Quran! It’s kind of relaxing in the sense that it is a major weakness in humans, in Muslims and it needs to be addressed, that it’s something global and not just YOUR weakness.  In the three consecutive Surahs 41, 42 and 43, this ingratitude is elaborated on further (41: 49-51) (42: 48) (43: 15-17). The incessant hopping from thankfulness upon receiving good and faithlessness following the slightest affliction is embarrassing to say the least. My dad always stresses on being content in whatever circumstances you find yourself in – it’s a true indicator of one’s character. What’s great about beaming from ear to ear upon landing something great and cribbing over your fate if something doesn’t work out? It’s what any mortal would do, I know… which is why it would be commendable to rise above that weak behavior and find contentment and peace in ALL that comes your way… which He’s Enabling anyway!

Every time I’m feeling a bit thankless now I either praise Him or I start counting His Blessings upon me right from my five intact senses to roof over my head to the ability to think – I really get down to the basics because I just don’t want to take anything for granted, because it’s the easiest way to get past my trivial issues, because nothing is truly in my control anyway.

 

Lesson 35 – I Will Pray For You April 15, 2010

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“(Father said): I will (pray to) my Rabb for forgiveness for you. Indeed He it is Who is Oft Forgiving, the Merciful.”

Surah Yousuf (Surah 12), verse 98

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I’ve had the understanding that praying for disbelievers, for the sinners is fruitless because it is Allah Who Guides them if He Wills, Who Lets them stray if He Wills.

I’ve also had the understanding that praying for good things, be it forgiveness for loved ones or anything else for that matter, is a way to tell Allah that you Fear Him and will ask only from Him because you admit that He is the Provider, the Merciful Provider, the Entity Who Knows your weaknesses and of those whom you want to salvage in a way that’s possible for you.

That He is to be Feared, to be expected to be Merciful is not a contradiction. I lack the wisdom to elaborate on this and I’ll find that one article I once read that explained this superbly and put it up soon InshaAllah.

Coming back to the verse, I think it’s safe to say that we should ask for forgiveness all the time (not just for ourselves! For everybody!). In these times (actually not really! It has always existed) when immorality is so rampant, I sometimes feel like just living is a sin. I feel like if I stayed in my room all day, I won’t sin… which kind of explains my hermit behavior every once in a while, but that’s going away from the topic at hand. I’ll just stop talking now.

 

Lesson 34 – Night & Day, Day & Night April 13, 2010

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“He it is Who has Created night for you to be peaceful in, and daylight for you to see in. Indeed in all this are the signs for the group of those people who listen.”

Surah Younus (Surah 10), verse 67

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Mom and my mom’s sister have ALWAYS said that. And I totally see their point. But there are so many things I have to do in one day that I can’t help but stay up late most of the time. The fact that shaitaan makes me irresistibly drowsy in the afternoons is what I need to address. I know that if I stay up those 3 hours I sleep in the afternoons, I could easily work my way towards a sensible sleeping time. A time that is in concordance with nature.

You would agree that when night falls, everything LOOKS as if it’s meant to be asleep. Like there is a purpose to the darkness, to the quiet that accompanies each night. I do have a problem with corporate for extending working hours to insensible schedules, with load shedding for wasting hours of the day, hours I could use to do my laundry and iron my clothes but they’re are all excuses my mind desperately formulates to escape the issue at hand.

Medically, mornings are great for the body. Cortisol (natural steroid) is released in a diurnal manner. Peak time is around 8 am in the morning and the lowest levels are around 12-4 am. Cortisol has many, many effects on the body. It’s basically a hormone released in stressful states. It helps release glucose (brain’s fuel), helps retain water and sodium in the body (integral for mental function), helps build short-term memory (too much of it, though, can impair learning), it weakens the immune system (if there’s a continued or increased circulation of it), it raises blood pressure (a controversial quality), it increases acid secretion in the stomach (that can give you the pangs in the morning) among its myriad of actions.

That all can be as good as being bad for you depending on different situations. It’s like if you have a deadline to meet, you find ways to do things, bring people in, have brilliant ideas and come up with a product minutes before it’s due. If you’re being given too many deadlines, you’re going to run short of ideas, short of the motivational drive and the desire to produce meaningful things. That’s pretty much how cortisol works. Going by plain logic then, waking up early  after a good night’s sleep, will mean that the cortisol is high at the same time as you’re awake, thereby keeping the motivational drive intact. Even on Sundays when, otherwise, we like sleeping in. Because we spent Saturday night partying. Going by that same logic, sleeping before 12 means we’ll be down right about the time that the stress hormones are minimal. But, of course, cortisol is not the only thing that needs to be considered; Allah’s Creations are always much more complex and fascinating.

Allah’s Words are too simple to be true. We make it so hard upon ourselves. We get lost in the flurry of things around us. In the things OTHER people are doing.

RE-PRIORITIZE is what I need to do, something I realize but don’t implement. DE-PRIORITIZE parties and TV and people’s inappropriately timed plans. If I truly have the will, I will find a way to stay awake and be productive in the afternoons and wake up in time to welcome a healthy dose of cortisol. I’ve trivialized this verse for far too long and I hope I can find ways to change that.

 

Lesson 33 – You Can Be Batman Too April 11, 2010

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“O you people who believe! Stand firmly for Allah to give witness that justice was done. And do not launch an attack by incriminating any group of people; it must not be that you lean towards one (group) in doing justice. Be just, this is nearer to taqwa (abiding with Allah’s laws). And fear Allah.”

Surah Al-Maida (Surah 5), verse 8

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People love to talk. Love to argue. Love to pass judgments. Some like to generalize… so it’s quite often that one hears, “Oh, he’s a Sindhi,”; “Oh they’re all like that,”; “Oh doctors ARE so greedy,” and the list can be pretty much endless. Why should a group of people suffer the blame when one selfish person decides to manifest his uber-disgusting ways? But we do that. We do it all the time! There’s news about one malpractice and the whole community of doctors is bombarded with suspicion. Zardari becomes president and the whole of Balochi and Sindhi communities are sweeped under this one umbrella of people nobody wants to interact with. We’re all fools that way. We think we’ve learned to treat people as individuals, then we meet the same situation, same type of person and we fall back into that easy trap of generalizing… till we decide that the generalizations are, in fact, legitimate. Aaah shaitaan works so cleverly, gotta give that to him.

As for handing out justice when it’s due… that’s a tough one. A lot of factors come into play (but the idea is to be honest with what one’s doing, even if later, one realizes it was the wrong decision).

This one time I was taking history from a patient, an emaciated, nervous little thing who patiently answered questions that dated back to a time I felt awfully awful about. It was a long history and there was a Hepatitis C marker above her head… Her sister was sitting besides her, helping me quite a bit, in the details of her history, which was making the patient weep in worry/ concern. The attendant insisted that my patient had no liver problems, that it was a transient infection that had resolved, that the doctors told her she just has her incisional hernia to worry about. I, being näive (read: a bit stupid), was going to retort until her monologue grew longer than 60 seconds and it hit me, the patient was being lied to, for lack of a better word about her state.

I am the kind of person who loves handing out truth, because I have (delusional) thoughts about helping people improve themselves upon hearing their flaws. In an honest way. But a nice one at that.

So, I thought, “Okay so my patient is being clearly lied to and it’s not something that’d be correct in my utopia,” but then there was the obvious fact of patients doing better with placebos. This patient’s placebo was the information being held, being told that she was doing well, she was on her way to recovery if she could hang on, for a bit more.

While all this happened, my patient got the hint and she looked into my eyes and asked me if she still had the infection… and I said what her sister said, in a roundabout manner. We spent the next 10 minutes bonding and consoling the patient, all three of us having group therapies of different sorts.

There are so many other times when things like these happen… when somebody confides in you for a vent out session that unfortunately involves backbiting and  blame games, maybe a pepper of derogatory terms too, it gets really odd because in your attempt to make your friend feel better you usually end up saying something that solidifies his/ her hatred/ dislike for whoever it was a session about OR you end up sharing a story about somebody you disliked who did something similar… But you see, that is right when shaitaan has jumped into the conversation and made wrong look / feel right.

The trick is to say things in a manner that doesn’t reveal the bad in the people being confided about, while at the same time helping your friend work his/ her way around the topic such that s/he isn’t being unnecessarily unjust and/ or  imperceptible. If and when, I’m able to reach that point, I’ll pat myself in the back and smile about following the command in this verse.

In the meanwhile, I’ll just pray that I not be a witness to things that’ll need my comment. Hehe.