Make peace with your brothers (DW# 910)

We are exploring verses from Chapter 49 of the Holy Quran, Sura Hujarat which emphasize social relationships.
In verse 10, the Quran says: The believers are indeed brethren, therefore make peace between your brethren.

Scholars explain that this is among the most important verses in the Quran for understanding the structure of the Muslim community (ummah), regarding its’ unity. The Holy Prophet (saw) is reported to have said: "The believers are like a single structure, each part supporting the other."
In Islamic spirituality, the bond between believers is more than that of companions or friends. It is a spiritual kinship which transcends race and ethnicity.  It rises above cultural differences and geographical locations.
Of course, we might have differences between ourselves and the bond of belief demands that we do not turn these differences into conflict, and that we coexist peacefully and also facilitate peace amongst those who are in...
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Don’t fall for rumours (DW# 909)

We have been talking about fasting with all of our being, of training ourselves to stay away from that which leads to His displeasure.
Some solid advice regarding behaviour towards others which leads to His displeasure is found in Chapter 49 of the Quran, Sura Hujarat (the Chambers).
Over the next few days, we will explore some verses from this Sura which talk about interacting with others and how we can please or displease Him by the way we behave with fellow human beings.
In verse 6 of Sura Hujarat, it says: O you who believe! if an evil-doer comes to you with a report, look carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you have done.
It is narrated that the occasion for revelation of this verse was when the Holy Prophet (saw) sent a person named Walid bin Aqbah to collect taxes to be distributed to people of few means. Walid was sent to a tribe with which he had has some conflict in the past. The people...
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The levels of fasting (DW# 908)

Yesterday we started reflecting on verse 2:183 of the Quran which says: O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain God consciousness.

Today let us explore the idea that keeping away from food, drink and other prohibitions during this month is simply the entry point to developing this internal energy, this God consciousness.
Imam Ali (as) talked about higher levels of fasting than simply being hungry and thirsty and he said: "Fasting of the heart is better than the fasting of the tongue; and fasting of the tongue is better than the fasting of the stomach."

Scholars explain that this points to the three levels of fasting:
The entry level is the fasting of sharia.

The basic level of fasting is the fasting of the stomach. The stomach here, is symbol for physical desires of all types: food, drink and sexual desires. In order for the fast to be "religiously correct", a person must abstain from...

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The purpose of fasting (DW# 907)

Verse 2:183 of the Quran reminds us of the ultimate purpose of fasting: O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain God consciousness.

The ultimate purpose of fasting then, is not a mere abstention from food and drink but rather the development of inner strength, a super energy which develops our self-control so that we can live consciously and aligned with our ultimate purpose rather than fall prey to momentary passions and desires.
Keeping away from food, drink and other prohibitions during this month is simply the entry point to developing this internal energy, this God consciousness.

Let us remind ourselves of the meaning of Taqwa, of God consciousness.
Taqwa means to be in a perpetual state of conscious awareness of His Presence.
The concept for humans (the forgetful species) being in a state of conscious awareness is easy to understand in the age of video recordings and...
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The Precious Invitation (DW# 906)

As we stand on the threshold of the Holy Month of Ramadan and get ready to receive its many blessings, let us take a moment to reflect on the words of the Holy Prophet (saw) as he approached this Spiritual Prime Time.

He gathered his people and gave a famous sermon, at the beginning of which he said:

O People !

Indeed the blessed month of Allah has approached you laden with His Mercy, blessings and forgiveness.

It is a month which with Allah is the best of months. Its days are the best of days, its nights, the best of nights, and its hours are the best of hours.

It is the month which invites you to be the guests of Allah and invites you to be one of those near to Him.

Reflections: The Holy Prophet (saw) addresses the people and reminds us that the special energies of Mercy, Blessings and Divine Forgiveness are abundant in this month, ours for the taking. The invitation is for all - not just those who are the most observant - it is addressed to mankind as a whole. What stands before...

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The real reason you turn to your smartphone (DW#905)

Yesterday we spoke about the external triggers in our environment that cause us to lose focus.

Today let us discuss internal triggers.
Eyal begins by asking a very important question: "What motivates us, really?". What prompts us to do anything?
He answers his own question by citing Epicurus: "By pleasure, we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul."
"Simply put", Eyal explains, "the drive to relieve discomfort is the root cause of all of our behavior, while everything else is a proximate cause."
Root causes vs. Proximate causes. The smartphone? Television? Video games? Chocolate? Excessive shopping?
Those are not the ROOT cause of your distraction. They’re simply the PROXIMATE causes.
The root cause, he says, is our inability to deal with emotional discomfort in our lives.
Just reflect on this for a moment. Just before you reach for the phone, the chocolate or the TV remote, what are...
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The Indisctractable Model (DW#904)

Eyal developed a 4 point model to master focus in our lives.

Here are the four steps:

  • Master Internal Triggers
  • Make Time for Traction
  • Hack Back External Triggers
  • Prevent Distraction with Pacts.
Eyal uses the Fogg Behavior Model to explain that for a behavior (B) to occur, three things must be present at the same time: motivation (M), ability (A), and a trigger (T). Or B = MAT.
In order to do anything, we need motivation and ability – both the desire to do something and the ability or energy to do it. It also means that the easier something is to do, the more likely we are to do it and the harder it is to do, the less likely we will do it (unless we have really high motivation and discipline that is).
Eyal explains, however, that when people have sufficient motivation and ability, they are only primed for certain behaviour or ready to take action. According to him, without the critical third component, which is the trigger, the behavior will not occur....
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Traction vs. Distraction (DW#903)

All of us are familiar with the term distraction. Eval discusses a very interesting concept regarding the opposite of distraction.

Here is how he introduces it:  

"Imagine a line that represents the value of everything you do throughout your day. To the right, the actions are positive; to the left, they are negative.

On the right side of the continuum is traction, which comes from the Latin trahere, meaning ‘to draw or pull.’ We can think of traction as the actions that draw us toward what we want in life. On the left side is distraction, the opposite of traction. Derived from the same Latin root, the word means the ‘drawing away of the mind.’ Distractions impede us from making progress toward the life we envision".

So, Traction means "to draw or pull." In other words turning towards the kind of life you want.

And distraction? Distraction, means "drawing away of the mind."

In other words, you intend something,...

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Who is going to manage our attention? (DW#902)

When I was writing Parenting in the Age of Facebook back in 2016, I got mixed reactions from people. While some were encouraging and wanted to know more about how we could manage technology and social media from negatively impacting our families, there were many who thought the task was insurmountable.

For some, the personal and family dependence on technology was such that they could not even see another possibility. They had already resigned themselves to a life where they would have a more intimate relationship with their smartphone than with those around them.

And then there some who thought that if the news was truly so damaging, "somebody" would have done something about it. Surely if tech was impacting our children in the way that I had expressed in the book, government and corporate regulators would do something about it?

Nir Eval’s book Indistractable is an answer to such concerns.

He says that in the future, there will be two kinds of people in the world:...

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Becoming indistractable (DW#901)

We have been chatting about how important it is to focus. Being able to keep our attention where we intend it to be is the key to productivity at work, our personal emotional and mental wellbeing and fulfilling relationships with others.

And yet modern life is perfectly designed to keep us in a state of distraction and "continuous partial attention". ALL THE TIME.

By some estimates, modern humans are subject to more inputs in a day than our forefathers encountered IN THEIR ENTIRE LIFETIME.

It is not surprising then, that we find ourselves in a state of increased anxiety and agitation. Our brains find it extremely challenging to focus while there are so many opportunities to mentally chase the next shiny object.

I have just finished exploring a very interesting book on the subject: Becoming indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal and will be sharing some insights and learnings from this over the next few days.

Nir Eyal is a former...

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