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The freedom of speaking the truth (Quotes to live by)

If you tell the truth, it becomes a part of your past but if you tell a lie, it becomes part of your future.

Imam Ali (as)

Much later, Mark Twain said something very similar:
If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

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The secret to beauty (Quotes to live by)

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.

From Roald Dahl's The Twits.

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Be an open book (Quotes to live by)

Live with integrity and transparency so that you remain unconcerned even if your family parrot is sold to the village gossip


(Adapted from teachings of various teachers)

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Continue reaching out to loved ones

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...

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Continue the practice of giving

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...

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Continue reflecting on the message

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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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 a garment to your spouse

They are your garments. And you are their garments. Sura Baqara (2:187)

Reflection: In this verse, the Quran uses the metaphor of garments whilst talking about the relationship between the spouses.

Just as garments cover one's body, protect one from the elements, are comfortable and beautify one, the marital relationship is meant to be one of mutual support, comfort and protection.

Clothes are the closest thing to one's body. Nothing comes between a person and his or her clothes. So the analogy of spouses being 'like clothes to one another' implies such a closeness – there is nothing, literally and metaphorically, that should come between spouses.

Why: The person who knows us most intimately, with all our weaknesses and vulnerability is most often our spouse. A relationship of vulnerability and intimacy is only possible when there is emotional safety, when we know that our spouse has our back, will cover our faults and support us and not use what they know about us to hurt us....

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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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The Learning Question

I love love love Stanier's learning question. The learning question is a great way to distill the wisdom from every interaction and leave people with real value for their time and yours.

The learning question allows us to gain insights from both successes and mistakes. It turns every conversation into a self growth moment.

The learning question is this: "What was most useful to you about this conversation?"

There is solid neuroscience embedded in the learning question. In Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning Brown, Roediger and Mc Daniel say that the most important thing about learning is to "interrupt the process of forgetting". They explain that forgetting starts happening immediately, so by asking this question at the end of a conversation, we create the first interruption it that slide towards "I've never heard that before".

Apart from helping us remember the major takeaways from an important conversation, the Learning Question does two other important things:

...

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