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Be defensive (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

An easy way to ruin a perfectly good relationship is to NEVER EVER accept responsibility for anything. If your spouse makes a complaint, counter that with a counter attack or criticise them for bringing up the issue.

When we do this, it pretty much guarantees that our significant other will stop bringing up issues that bother them. The issues will fester and grow and impact other areas of our relationship.

For some of us, our defensiveness is truly unconscious. We immediately and impulsively refute or rebut whenever our spouses bring up actions and behaviours that are causing a problem in the relationship.

If we do not want to ruin our relationships, however, we do need to pause when we feel the urge to be defensive. Pausing allows us to reflect on what our spouse is truly saying and asking of us. What part of it can we take responsibility for? What can we acknowledge and commit to changing?

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Be critical (How to ruin a perfectly good relationship)

Complaining is great for relationships but criticism is very destructive.

What's the difference?

When you are complaining, you are focused on an issue which is bothering you and you are giving your spouse information on what bothers you, why it bothers you and how to make it better.

This is what a complaint sounds like:
"When you leave your socks on the floor after you change your clothes, it frustrates me since I like to have the floor free of clutter. Please put them in the laundry basket instead."

A complaint involves taking ownership of the way the issue makes you feel and it invites the other to support you through a clear request of change in behaviour.

Criticism on the other hand, involves attacking the other person's character or personality. It does not give information for change and causes defensiveness in the other person.

"You always leave your socks on the floor. How selfish can you be? You don't care that I spent so much time clearing up. Why can't you pick up after...

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How to ruin a perfectly good relationship

Over the years in my practice as a marriage and family therapist, I have witnessed the many ways people hurt those that they love most and damage the relationships that matter most.

Of course, no one starts out wanting to destroy a perfectly good relationship. The damage to relationships often starts with small hurts that we feel. Instead of talking about the hurt and dealing with it, we may keep quiet thinking that it is not worth fighting over.

When not dealt with, these tiny resentments built up over time, create emotional distance and begin to show up in our behaviour in little ways. It is these little ways that we fail to be there for each other or hurt each other that add up over time and erode the love that is there.

Other ways that we ruin relationships is by not being aware of actions and behaviours that create discord and destroy love.

This month we will focus on how NOT to ruin a perfectly good relationship by exploring all the ways that we CAN ruin a relationship.

We...

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Continue calling on Him through Dua

 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....

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Maintaining our newly formed good habits

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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Be on the winning team

In Sura Saff (61:14), it says: O you who believe, be the helpers of Allah

The fact is that Allah's Will will be done and His plan will come to fruition. Allah does not require our help. An invitation to be part of His plan and to be a helper is a privilege that He grants to those who wish to be part of the synchronistic forces of the universe that are fulfilling His plan.

To be a helper of Allah means to be worthy of working on behalf of Allah in this world.

This verse is an invitation for all believers to join this group – to become part of a winning team and to further His cause. The cause of Allah is the cause of social justice on this earth: to resist ignorance and injustice and to be a force for good.

Thankfully there are so many ways to do this and we can participate according to the talent and the time that is granted to us.

We can help His cause within our own circle of influence with friends, family and social contacts. We can use our tongue, our pens, our computers,...

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Settle your disputes

In Sura Anfal (8:1) the Quran says: So be God-conscious and settle your disputes.

This verse which was revealed after the battle of Badr when Muslims had differences between themselves regarding the splitting of war booty, refers to a key principle of a harmonious social life.

In any relationship, personal, work related or social, it is normal to have differences and conflict. Such differences exist in the healthiest of relationships. What sets good relationships apart from the unhealthy ones, is not the presence of difference or conflcit, but how it is handled. Differences create issues in relationships when they turn into disputes, that is when narrow-minded self interest and ego turns differences into oppurutnities for a win-lose battle.

 

This verse reminds us that there will be differences and conflict in our relationships and that we need to move beyond them. The verse also relates God consciousness to settling of disputes, reminding us that when we are in conflict,...

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Count your blessings

In Sura Ibrahim (14:34) the Quran says: If you count the favors of Allah you will not be able to number them

As human beings we have the tendency to take our good fortune for granted and pay attention when things get tough. Going through tough times and challenges often results in us having tunnel vision: our focus narrows only to what is NOT going our way and we fail to notice things that are working as they should or are in fact working for our benefit. It is useful to remember that no matter how bad things may seem at a given time, as long as we are breathing there is more right with our lives than wrong, although the wrong may be capturing our attention to a greater extent.

This verse reminds us that while what is going wrong can often be counted on the fingers of one hand, the Blessings and gifts of Allah cannot be enumerated even if we tried.

Scholars explain that the reason we cannot count His favours is because:

– The blessings are so all-pervasive that it is difficult...

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Do not be wasteful

In Sura Israa (17:26), Allah says: And do not squander wastefully.

Reflection: We are encouraged to be balanced in all aspects of life, including how we spend money and resources. While it is encouraged to use and enjoy the bounties and blessings that we have been given, this needs to be done mindfully and with a concern for the welfare of society, which uses the same resources and of the planet, which bears the brunt of our overconsumption.

The injunction not to be extravagant or wasteful does not relate to the quantity of spending but rather to improvidence or wastefulness. Buying what we need and using what we buy may not be wasteful but when we keep adding to the hordes of things that we already own and do not use, we do need to ask ourselves if this verse would apply to us.

Also, what might be moderate spending for one with means may well be extravagant for another who spends more than they can afford, or one who has to borrow to fulfill greed or to keep up appearances.

Why: We...

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Be inclusive

In Sura Mujadilah (58:11), it says: O ye who believe! When ye are told to make room in the assemblies (spread out and) make room: (Ample) room will Allah provide for you.

When the Holy Prophet (saw) used to conduct assemblies, his followers would throng around him in their eagerness to get close and hear better what he had to say. This meant that the weaker or more reticent of the people may have been crowded out and inconvenienced due to the enthusiasm of the others.

This simple command contains such a powerful message: that we need to be mindful of others in public spaces and provide equitable opportunities for access.
Scholars explain that the wider meaning of this verse applies to the totality of our social life and "making room for one another" implies the mutual providing of opportunities for a decent life to all - and especially to the needy or handicapped - members of the community.

It is amazing how Allah (swt) encourages us by providing us with the ultimate motivation to do...

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