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Keep learning - (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

A little knowledge, it is said, is a dangerous thing.

When we first start learning about something, the increase in our knowledge about that thing can sometimes lead us to believe that we know all there is to know.

Imam Ali (as) says:
One who imagines himself to be all-knowing will surely suffer on account of his ignorance.

On the contrary, the more we learn about something, the more aware we become about how little we know.

Here is how Imam Ali (as) puts it:
The man of knowledge is the one who recognizes that what is known is very little compared to what is not known, and as a result he considers himself ignorant, and accordingly he increases his efforts to know more by going out in search of knowledge.

Humility, he also said, is the product of knowledge.

In other words, the more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know.

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Knowing and doing (Imam Ali (as)’s wisdom)

We love learning don't we?

I believe that we have an inherent attraction towards wisdom and acquiring knowledge of what makes sense, of what aligns with the deepest truths that human beings are hard-wired with.

Putting the knowledge into action, however, is sometimes a little more challenging.

Spiritual wisdom often differentiates between surface knowledge and true knowledge.

True knowledge is transformational. When you know better, you do better.

Here is how Imam Ali puts it:
Knowledge is accompanied by action, for whoever knows acts. Knowledge calls out for action: if it responds to the call then it remains . . . otherwise it moves away from it.

In other words, knowledge, if not acted upon, departs.

A great way to remember what we learn is to start acting upon it immediately. Taking baby steps . . .

So, how much of the Daily Wisdom have we acted upon??

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On acquiring wisdom

We will explore the wisdom of Imam Ali (as) in this series of Daily Wisdom.

This is how Reza Shah-Kazemi introduces Imam Ali in his fantastic book Justice and Remembrance: Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali:

"To speak of Ali – cousin and son in law of the Prophet Muhammad, fourth caliph of Islam and the first in line of Shi'i Imams - is to speak about the quintessential spirituality of the Islamic tradition. For in this seminal figure of nascent Islam, one finds an integral expression of the two fundamental sources of Islamic spirituality, the Quranic revelation and the inspired Sunna of the Prophet. By his Sunna, we do not mean simply the outward imitation of the Prophet's – a reductionism all too prevalent in our times – rather, we mean the spiritual substance of the prophetic perfection to which the Quran itself refers: "Verily, thou art of a tremendous nature (68:4)"

The Prophet Mohammad (saw) had advised his followers:
I am the city of knowledge and Ali...

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Problems as Opportunities (Quotes to live by)

When we face challenges in our lives, it can really throw us off track and destabilize us. Once we start getting some perspective, we can learn and grow from the challenges and use the challenges as catalysts to propel us onto a path of learning, healing and growth.

Here is how Louise Hay thinks about it:

If we can use our problems and illnesses as opportunities to think about how we can change our lives, we have power.

When there is a problem, there is not something to do, there is something to know.

Louise Hay is the one who popularized positive affirmations as tools for transformation and growth. Used wisely, affirmations can be helpful in changing thought patterns and beliefs that no longer serve us. Here are two powerful affirmations from Louise:

When we want to change a condition, we need to say so. "I am willing to release the pattern within me that is creating this condition." You can say this to yourself over and over every time you think of your illness or problem. The...

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Louise Hay on Self Love (Quotes to live by)

How much of your self talk is about criticizing yourself and giving yourself a hard time?

Women in particular have been somehow conditioned to be way more mean to ourselves than we are to anyone else, don't you think?

This is what Louise Hay has to say about it:

Loving the self, to me, begins with never ever criticizing ourselves for anything. Criticism locks us into the very pattern we are trying to change. Understanding and being gentle with ourselves helps us to move out of it. Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn't worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.

(New research on willpower actually confirms this – that self-criticism depletes the will to change while self-compassion encourages change and helps us live up to the best versions of ourselves – who would have thought!!)

She also said:

Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the main keys to positive changes in every area of our lives.

The more we love...

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Recognize the value of the Night of Destiny

In Sura Qadr (97:2 & 3) Allah says, And what could make you conceive what it is, that Night of Destiny? The Night of Destiny is better than a thousand months

Laylatul Qadr is a night wherein Allah swt decides our "qadr" – He makes decisions regarding what to grant us to fulfill our full potential.

One way to think about this is to consider that He is asking us to be co-creators in our own destiny by allowing us and inviting us to worship on this Grand Night and ask for what we need in order to live our purpose on this planet. This is a night which is filled with the opportunity to change the story of our lives.

While considering what to ask for (in addition to the health and safety of ourselves, our families and the Ummah) it is worth taking some time to reflect on our purpose in life, how we can fulfill it and what we need to get going. This important reflection will help us in beginning to take responsibility for our lives and become proactive in creating a life that is...

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Practice small acts of kindness

In Sura Zilzal, [99:7] Allah says: So. he who has done an atom's weight of good shall see it

Reflection: Scholars explain that this verse means that on the Day Man will recognize the impact of his actions – he will be shown the outcome of his good and bad actions on the Day. And the implication is that even the smallest of deeds will incur more reward than we can imagine.

The virtue of deeds with Him is never in the quantity but is always focused on the intention behind it. In other words, the smallest of good deeds done with a pure intention are weightier than the largest of deeds done for the wrong reasons, such as to look good, to attract accolades or to indebt others to ourselves. It also implies that two people may do the exact same action outwardly but the internal spirit of the action and therefore the reward may be very different based on the intention.

Why: The benefits to us for acts of altruism

When we do small acts of kindness, there are so many benefits that...

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Seek counsel and consultation

Sura Shuraa verse 42:38. And their rule is to take counsel among themselves.

Reflection: This sentence in verse 38 is part of a passage that describes the people for whom the Hereafter will be so much better than the world. One of their qualities is that they seek counsel from one another.

Islam recommends that believers seek advice from each other, and discuss things to get the opinions of others.

Why: When we are in the midst of a situation or a problem, it is often challenging to see the big picture or reflect on how our behaviour is playing out in the situation. Our own self interest and ego often results in tunnel vision, which leads to actions not in our ultimate best interest.

Seeking counsel and consultation from a spouse, a good friend, a trusted colleague or a trained professional at such a time can be hugely beneficial. (There is a reason that the most successful CEOs and leaders all have personal coaches and consultants . . .)

This sounds like a modern idea, doesn't it?...

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Give full measure

Sura Isra, 17:35 And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with the straight balance. That is better and more virtuous in the end

Reflection: To give full measure when you measure, and weigh with the straight balance means to measure honestly rather than cheating people when trading goods and currency by using a balance that falsely overstates or understates the weight of what has been put upon it. It also means in a general way, to barter or exchange goods fairly and honestly so that what is given is equal to what is received.

Why: Trust is the basis of an evolved society. When transactions are carried out on the basis of trust, transactions are speeded up and less resources are needed for monitoring and accounting. In Switzerland for example, the entire transit system runs on the basis of trust. You buy your own ticket and only very rarely are random checks made. It is even rarer for those checking to catch someone who has not paid.

How: Let us look at our lives and see...

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Stop the blame game

In Sura Ibrahim, verse 14:22, it says: And do not blame me but blame yourselves.

Reflection: This verse from Surah Ibrahim is part of a conversation when Shaytan is telling mankind that instead of blaming him they should blame themselves.

Blaming others for our choices in life is SO easy isn't it? It also feels good in the moment because we do not have to deal with the pricks of conscience or negative emotions that accompany our poor choices and actions.

Ultimately however, blaming others is immobilizing and creates a feeling of powerlessness.

Why? If we convince ourselves that power and responsibility lies outside of ourselves, and someone else is to blame for what we are doing, it follows that we have no control or agency to change our situation. This leads to a victim mentality. Not a very inspiring way to live, is it?

We have been give free will to make choices in our lives, however limited or unpleasant those choices appear in the moment. When we accept this gift of choice, we...

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