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You always/you never (DW#422)

When we are in the midst of conflict, it seems that the other person is consistently annoying – they are always late – they never keep their word – they are always grumpy – they never pick up after themselves – they never listen to us – they always have the last say etc etc etc. 

By sharing the ways that they always or never do certain things, we are trying to build a solid case of how we are being let down. 

The problem with using generalizations like always and never is that they are seldom accurate. People are just not that consistent. There will always be times when they are not what we are accusing them of. 

Moreover, the minute they hear always or never in an accusatory tone, their mind becomes super busy trying to find exceptions to our case against them. Once they find even a single exception (and they generally do!), they will do their best to prove us wrong, our case is destroyed and we have lost the...

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Watch your words! (DW#421)

We all want to enjoy great relationships with the people that matter most and others whom we are in regular contact with. Our spouses and our children, our friends and community members, siblings and parents. People at work and in the neighborhood.

Sometimes, though, despite our best intentions, we say things that drive these same people way from us.

For the next few days, let’s explore some phrases and things that we say that can be annoying, that shut down communication, damage intimacy and distance our loved ones.

Today’s phrase is wildly popular on social media and via instant messaging: "just sayin’".

 

Here is how the Urban dictionary defines it:
  • a term coined to be used at the end of something insulting or offensive to take the heat off you when you say it.
  • The punctuation people put at the end of an unsolicited, fact-less assertion to indicate self-satisfaction at having stated something they erroneously believe...
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Continue reaching out to loved ones (DW#420)

5. Maintaining Family Relationships
The month of Ramadan finds many of us trying to reach out to family, by an invitation for iftar or sending food and gifts. As the nights of Qadr approach, we are reminded about making amends with those members of our family whom we have issues with.

Through prayer and supplication, our hearts become soft, through closeness to Him, we begin to recognize the big picture and may be more amenable to forgive and overlook the small grievances that we may have been holding.

While reflecting on the Quran, we are reminded to pardon people, to manage our anger, to repel evil with good and to maintain relationships with our blood relations. We begin to recognize, once again, that He is happy with us if are human connections are in order. We are reminded that the path to Him begins with loving His creation.

Baby steps:
Regularly reach out to long forgotten family members through a phone call, email or text.

Consider inviting family to share meals with you, even if...

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Continue calling on Him through Dua (DW#419)

4. Dua
One of the most special things about Ramadan are the moments of connection to Him through Dua or supplication. The process of turning to Him and asking from Him enriches us beyond measure and gives us spiritual strength.

Whereas sharia applies to our outward actions and its job is to regulate human action in order to create the basis of social justice, Dua is the training the heart to love the Creator, to experience His love and to understand that the more you love Him, and have a personal relationship with Him, the more you understand that the laws of sharia are to help you reach your full potential.


The Duas that we have been reciting during this month all emphasize the personal quality of Allah's relationship with us and His all-encompassing love. Dua is therefore a vital practice to cultivate spirituality and nurture our connection to Him.

Baby steps:
Look through a compilation of Dua such as the Sahifa Sajjadiya or the Duas of Imam Ali (as). Pick one that calls to you.

Pick a...

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Continue the practice of giving (DW#418)

3. Giving generously
Many of us plan our yearly giving, Sadaqa, Khums and Zakat, during the month of Ramadan. We actively seek out those that are needy and reach out to them with giving in cash and in kind. We experience the deep sense of gratitude, humility and sense of satisfaction that comes from reaching out and helping fellow human beings. It reminds us of the human connection that we share, of our responsibility to the whole and of the necessity of enabling the flow of wealth rather than the hoarding of it.

Throughout the Quran, the acting of giving Zakat (literally means to purify wealth through giving) comes hand in hand with establishing prayer. Allah swt constantly reminds us that our relationship to Him through prayer is complemented by our relationship to humanity through giving.

Baby steps:
Be aware of need all around you. When the urge to giving strikes, do not second guess it or talk yourself out of it. Take action to meet the need in whatever way you can.

Remind yourself...

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Continue reflecting on the message (DW#417)

objective spirituality Jun 19, 2018

2. Reading the Quran
This is the second habit that we developed during the month of Ramadan – a daily practice of recitation and reflection on the message.

To succeed in any area of life, the first step is knowledge about the rules that govern that area. We do not expect to excel at academics or in the workplace without reading the texts that govern the particular field. Similarly, we cannot expect to succeed in this world, get to know the system of cause and effect, to know ourselves or figure out how to achieve ultimate success in the hereafter without looking at the manual gifted to us by the Creator of the system.

Although we may have spent much time in recitation during the month of Ramadan, an ongoing relationship with the Quran necessitates understanding, contemplation and action. Only with understanding and reflection can we use the wisdom in of the Book to improve our life here and beyond.

Baby steps:
Read and reflect on one ayat of the Quran every day. Once again, it is...

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Maintaining our newly formed good habits (DW#416)

As we celebrate Eid and get back to our normal routines, let us reflect on the spiritual gains that we have made this month and reflect on some tiny steps that we can take to maintain the spirit of Ramadan alive so that the spiritual gains that we have achieved are not lost. So that we may start next Ramadan inshallah at a slightly higher plane of spirituality than we did this year. 

This week inshallah we will talk about some of the actions that we took during this month and habits that we formed which helped us nurture our spiritual bond to Him. We will explore some small and simple ways that we can continue these practices in order to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive for ourselves.

1. Establishing Salaat
Ramadan is a time when we most conscious of Salaat and its' timings, especially the fajr and maghrib prayer.
Regular and timely prayer is the most basic and vital way to maintain our connection to Him. Salaat is designed by the Almighty to be an intentional and consistent...

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Eat of the good things (DW#415)

Sūra Mu’minūn: Eat of the good things and act righteously [Quran: 23:51]

As we prepare for the festival of Eid and the days of feasting that will surely follow, let us remind ourselves of this verse which links eating to doing good or acting righteously. 

It is a most beautiful command to eat of the good things: to enjoy the bounty and blessings that He has granted us and to take pleasure in these bounties. While this verse commands us to be mindful of what we eat, it also links food to spirituality, to the command to act righteously. 

Scholars explain that this verse reminds us that what we eat impacts our soul. It affects how we think and how we behave, how we connect to God, and how we treat others around us. Our spirituality, in other words, is very closely linked to what and how we eat. 

A tradition of the Holy Prophet (saw) advises us: Spare one third of the stomach for food, one third for drink and one third for breath.

So today as we begin...

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Hardship and ease come together (DW#414)

Sura Inshirah: Truly with hardship comes ease! [Quran: 94:5]

Such a beautiful and hopeful verse of the Quran! And the phrase is repeated in the next verse for emphasis. 

While we often read that there is a silver lining in the clouds, that hard times eventually pass, this verse reminds us that there is relief and ease not after a trial or challenging time, but right along with it

Truly with hardship comes ease. 

When we are going through tough times and challenges, we sometimes get tunnel vision: our focus narrows only to the pain or the challenge and we fail to notice things that are working as they should or are in fact working for our benefit. When our knees are hurting for example, we may not notice that the rest of our body is in fact, pain free. We begin to lose perspective and begin to see our whole life in terms of the challenge or the difficulty. 

At times like this, it is useful to remember that no matter how bad things may seem at...

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Avoid secret conversations (DW#413)

Sura Nisa: There is no good in most of their secret talks except in he who enjoins charity, or goodness, or reconciliation between people. [Quran 4:114]

During the time of the Holy Prophet (saw), his enemies would gather in small groups, whisper amongst themselves and plot against him. In this verse, the Quran cautions against having secret conversations amongst people while leaving others out, except if it to do charity or advise towards kind deeds or to make amends between people.

This verse about social etiquette has deep psychological wisdom. It refers to when two or more people gather to talk secretly excluding others. In another place in the Quran, najwa or a secret conversation is referred to as an act of Shaytan (Quran 58:10) as it is often done with ill intentions, either to plot evil, to form inappropriate relationships or to deceive someone. A conversation that is well intentioned on the other hand, generally does not require the covering of...

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