Read The Quran With An Open Mind.

When reading the Qur’an, I think we do a great injustice to our understanding by viewing it with the lens of our preconceived ideas/notions. For example, kafaroo = rejectors, so this must be speaking of those people who are not Muslim. How can you be so sure that you don’t fit into it? Just because you were born into a ‘Muslim’ family does not make you a Muslim. Your actions decide that. And it’s not a label that you can carry. It’s a lifetime struggle to TRY and become a Muslim. How dare you call yourself a Muslim when your actions are different to what our Creator wants from us? Do you even know what He wants from us?

Forget all that you’ve been taught and read the Book with an open mind. And then judge yourself and other people according to the teachings of it.

Peace.

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Effective Supplications

We come across many ‘Supplications’ in the Quran that Prophets and believers do. Let me put forward my understanding and it’s purpose of it.

 Let’s take this for an example: Among them is he who says, “Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” 2:201

Now the purpose of sharing dua’s in the Quran is to make you internalize the message within. You could say this dua as much as you want, but do you really think Allah wants that from you? What good is lip service? Allah wants you to develop your soul to the point where your state of being is a witness to this supplication.

Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do. 61:13 You see how powerful those words are? So before you say the supplication in 2:201, make sure you have internalized it. Your actions should be a proof of the supplication you make. Are you really working for priming your soul to the point where you get the best of both worlds?

Praying without action is useless. It’s simply lip service – the easiest thing to do. I can pray all I want, but to pass an exam, I must study. Similarly, I can pray all I want for people who are oppressed in the world, but until I do something about it, its utterly useless and a mockery of your own ‘self’.

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Ramadan

Firstly, the month of Ramadan is a training program in order to limit the desires of our body and focusing on priming our soul. The goal we’re trying to achieve is to be more conscious of Allah (2:183) and more thankful for the blessings we possess (2:185). We do this by reading Quran with meaning, and abstaining from the detrimental things we have been accustomed to. The month of Ramadan should make us reconsider our needs and wants, enable us to adopt a more moderate and minimalist approach in our lifestyle, make us more patient, charitable & compassionate towards our fellow human beings. Those are the purposes of fasting/abstaining.

See, we must realize that fasting is not done to please God in anyway, and it is not a means to salvation in itself; rather it is done to achieve the goals that I have briefly outlined above. Obviously, there is no point in fasting if we do not strive to achieve them. If we sleep for the most part of our fast, we are cheating our own souls because it’s not teaching us anything! Or, if we end up consuming more than we usually do and have lavish Iftars, it is totally against the point of fasting in the first place! Think of it like this: You take a university course in order to clear the exams. It would only be worthwhile if you pass in those examinations. Fasting is the course, and we will only pass the examinations if we achieve the objectives of it. Otherwise, it’s useless.

Ramadan is that month where the Quran should reveal itself to us (2:185).  Don’t let anyone deter you from this, not even yourself. If you seek to read the whole Quran, you just have to read 1 juz per day (20 pages) which approximately takes only an hour. Of course, you don’t HAVE to finish the Quran. Read whatever is easy for you, but just read something every day. Be acquainted with the message. Remember, baby steps are the key to success. All of us are ambassadors of Islam. The world doesn’t read the Quran, they read the people who claim themselves to be Muslim. Let’s withdraw from all that we’re used to, and focus our energies on reforming ourselves and then stay that way even after Ramadan has passed by.

I wish you a very productive Ramadan. Thank you for your time!                                        Fasting2

Stages of Consciousness: My Journey as a Muslim

Spiritual people pass through certain stages of consciousness on their journey to God. I write this to share my journey with you all.

For me, it started off as an unexpected interest in Islam, the religion I was “born” into. I started reading the Quran, and I was hooked. This is what I would call the first stage in the journey – the introduction. You come to know about the stark differences between what God says in the Quran, and what is widely believed by your community and your religious peers. You are judgmental. You take great delight in debating, and proving other people wrong. A sense of superiority reigns over you. You want to save people from the endless doom of the fire. Unfortunately, and I say this with my deepest regrets, most religious people just do not grow past this stage: a judgmental bigot who annoys anyone who holds even a slightly different point of view.

Then, if you’re lucky (and I sure was!), you meet people who challenge your beliefs and ask you logical explanations of why you believe certain things. This is new to you, certainly! Does belief warrant a logical explanation, you think to yourself? You ponder, and come across the many verses from the Quran that advocate skepticism and critical thinking. Now, you have to unlearn the things you have programmed yourself to believe in, and look at it from a rational perspective. It’s very difficult initially, mind you! You’re in tatters! Could God really allow men to beat women, for example? Your inner voice immediately says no.

This is the second stage. You realize that perhaps you, yourself has a lot to learn from others. Differences of opinion are now regarded as food for thought, no longer a front where you could correct others. It is a stage of uncertainty; you feel a hollow void within yourself desperately asking God to provide answers to your endless questions. This agony lasts for a while.

Suddenly, you have a eureka moment. Everything starts falling into it’s place. You no longer accept the translations of the Quran as perfect; instead you interpret the Quran for yourself through a range of different exercises. You realize the inconsistencies that lie within these translations, and thank God for opening your eyes towards Truth.

Fear is no longer a motive for believing in God, unconditional love is. You no longer help other people to get rewards, but simply because they are your brethren in humanity and are in need. And this is where the soul really blossoms! You no longer behave as an “I know it all” bigot, for differences are God’s signs (30:22)! Labels don’t matter, anymore. Only character does. Needless to say, you are no longer interested in endless debates, for you realize that they are only a clash of egos. An inner serenity overwhelms you. This, I believe is the third stage. The farthest I have walked yet.

Perhaps the butterfly is proof that you can go through a great deal of darkness yet become something so beautiful!

Be water, my friend. Evolve!

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