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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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Pay it forward (DW#412)

Sura Qassas: and do good (to others) as Allah has done good to you[28:77] 

This verse, addressed to the rich despot Qarun, reminds him that the bounties that he has been granted are a gift from God, to be used in good works and charity. That he should be a conduit of these blessings, keeping the flow of blessings going by passing some of them on to those in need, rather than hoarding them all for himself.

Qarun believed that what he had was solely a result of his own hard work. He failed to see that the abundance of blessings can be a test to see how we will use these blessings. He forgot about all those who could have benefited from sharing in the blessings that were granted to him and instead he squandered them in meaningless ways and to feed his whims and passions. 

The lesson for us is this: whatever we have been granted of material, intellectual or social bounties are a trust from Him. These gifts need to be engaged as a force for good in this world rather than...

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Harkat mein barkat (DW#411)

In Verse 39 of Sura Najm, Allah says: And that man shall have nothing but what he strives for. (Holy Quran 53:39)

For today’s verse, I could not find a better title than the Urdu phrase: Harkat mein barkat, meaning there is blessing in movement/striving. One of the principles of life, taught by experience and by Divinity, is that human beings get what they strive towards.

It is important to note that what the Quran is telling us is that our outcome will be in accordance with our striving. What this means is that it intention and effort that counts. In the material world, we are told that winning is everything and that being second best does not count. 

However, in our relationship with God, winning and the outcome does not matter as much as the effort and the intention with which any action is undertaken. The outcome, of course, is never really in our control in the first place. We can work really hard at something and still not get the outcome we hoped...

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Respect the earth (DW#410)

Sura Rum: Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea on account of what the hands of men have wrought (Quran 30:41)

Corruption (fasad, in Arabic) is often defined as: "A thing leaving a balanced state." In other words, corruption is when something becomes ruined, contaminated, polluted or out of balance. Its opposite is salah/islah is to rectify, correct, or set right. In other words, to bring a thing back to some sort of equilibrium and balance.

This verse reminds us that we need to be muslihun – people of islah, not mufsidun – people of fasad; of how we are to be people who set things aright, not sow mischief throughout the earth. We are called upon to be healers, not corrupters.

Here is the foundational principle of the Qur’an’s "earth ethics" or the ecological view in Islam: That we are stewards of this earth and that we need to respect the balance in Creation and not to disturb this...

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Recognize the value of a single night (DW#409)

The grand night is better than a thousand months [Sura Qadr, 97:3]
Laylatul Qadr (the grand night, night of power, night of destiny) is the anniversary of the night when the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (saw). This night, the holiest in the Islamic calendar, is a celebration to commemorate the arrival of the final guidance for humans. 

The above verse from Sura Qadr tells us that Laylatul Qadr, or the Grand Night is better than a thousand months. In the verse preceding this one, the Quran has invited us to raise our consciousness by asking And what will make you comprehend what the grand night is? [97:2]. This verse answers this question by informing us that the Grand Night, or Laylatul Qadr is better, more elevated than one thousand months. 

A thousand months is equal to more than 80 years, a quantity of time that is equal to, if not more than, a lifetime for many of us.

Clearly the Quran wants us to understand that there is a...

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Worship and service are inseparable (DW#408)

In Sura Maida, the Quran whilst talking about whom to take as guardians friends or protectors, says: those who keep up prayers and give alms while they bow[Quran 5:55] 

The verse refers to an incident in the life of the Holy Prophet (saw) which is reported by his companions. The companion reports: ‘Once I performed the noon prayers in a mosque, behind the Prophet (saw) then, a beggar came in but no one attended to him. The beggar extended his hands towards the heaven and said, ‘O God, bear witness! Here, in the mosque of the Prophet of God (saws) I asked (to be given something), but no one attended to me.’

Ali (as), who was in the state of ruku’, saying his prayers, gestured with his hand, inviting the beggar to take a ring which was on his little finger. The beggar stepped closer and removed the ring from Ali’s (as) finger. This incident took place in the presence of the Prophet (saws)’. Ref 

This verse is...

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Dust those cobwebs (DW#407)

In Sura Ankabut, Allah swt likens the security systems of human beings to the frailty of a spider’s web: The parable of those who take guardians besides Allah is as the parable of the spider that makes for itself a house; and most surely the frailest of the houses is the spider’s house did they but know. [Quran, 29:41]

When we reflect on the spider’s web, we realize that it has several rather interesting features:

It provides no protection: Although the construction of the web is a remarkable feat of architecture, and it can look beautiful, it does not fulfil a basic need of a house which is shelter and protection. The spider’s web doesn’t protect the spider from the elements at all. Wind, fire, water all penetrate through it. The mere brush from a broom or a hand can destroy it. How frail is this house!

It is spun from within: Whist other animals use materials from nature to construct their houses, the spider spins the web from a substance...

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