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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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Give from what you love

In Sura Al Imran, [3:92], Allah says: By no means shall you attain to righteousn­ess until you spend (benevolen­tly) out of what you love; and whatever thing you spend, Allah surely knows it.

Reflection­: We all donate and give things away for various reasons: to declutter, to help someone out or to discard things that we no longer need or use. When we are looking to give away, we often reach for things or money that we can spare or that are no longer useful to us.

While this kind of giving may have its benefits, the verse in question is talking about a different kind of giving: giving from what you love most and what may still be useful or valuable to you. While the result of the previous kinds of giving may be a clean house, a decluttere­d envriormen­t or a minilmilis­tic and low-impact lifestyle, giving from what you love has the impact of unattachme­nt to material possession­s, spiritual growth and nearness to the Divine. By severing our...

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Offer a sincere greeting

In Sura Nisa (4:86), Allah says: And when you are offered a greeting, respond with a greeting that is better, or return it (with a equal courtesy).

Reflection: One of the easiest ways to build and strengthen social bonds is to greet others sincerely. Islam encourages us to greet one another with the greeting: "Peace be upon you". How beautiful is that since as human beings, peace is what we are ultimately searching for. It is also important to remember that while the initial greeing is highly recommended, a response to the greeting is incumbant upon us.

A hadith informs us that spreading greeetings of peace along with sharing food with others, maintaining family relations and praying in the middle of the night are acts that will grant one Paradise (ref: The Study Quran, pg 231).

Why: When someone reaches out to connect in this way, at the very least we are required to turn towards them with a similar or better greeting. The verse encourages to go further and offer a better greeting....

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Practice integrity between speech and action

In Sura Saff (61:2), Allah says: O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do?

Reflection: One of the qualities of the faithful is that there is integrity and harmony between their speech and their actions. This means that they can be counted on to tell the truth and to carry out what they promise or intend to do. Scholars explain that to promise a thing which one intends not to do is a sign of hypocrisy whilst to promise and intend an action but be unable to carry it out is a sign of weakness.

Being your word, that is carrying out what you pledge and promise to do is considered in Islam to be a hallmark of the faithful. Imam Ali (as) in one of his letters to Malik Ashtar commands him to be true to his word, even it be to the enemy. He writes, "If you conclude an agreement between yourself and your enemy or enter into a pledge with him then fulfil your agreement and discharge your pledge faithfully. Place yourself as a shield against whatever you have pledged because...

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Resist the temptation to mock others

In Sura Hujarat (49:11), it says: O believers, let no group make fun of another, for they may be better than them.

Reflection: Mocking means to say something which degrades someone and puts them down. It could be a verbal "joke", a rolling of the eyes, an imitation of gait, word or accent or something even more subtle than that. The aim of mocking is to ridicule the other and make others laugh at the person.

This is often done in the guise of humour and the person who is mocking may lead others to believe that they are humourless or boring if they don't 'get the joke'. When called out on what they are doing, those who are mocking may tell others to "chill out" or "don't take it so seriously".

Yet, if the language of mockery removes the property of humour, the statements show up as merely nasty. Humour appears to give a gloss of moral invisibility to statements "made in jest"—but perhaps we should be more hesitant and reflective about what we're participating in and doing. And...

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Be a force for good

Sura Maidah (5:2) says: O, You who believe . . . help one another in goodness and piety.

Reflection: Cooperating with others in goodness is one of the basic principles for a society build on spiritual and ethical values. When people of faith work together, they motivate and provide encouragement and enthusiasm for each other. The energies of the universe synchronize to further a cause which is thus initiated.

Why? All of us have different and complementary talents. When we cooperate and work together as a team, we create synergy, which is an interaction of multiple elements to produce a result greater than the sum of their individual effects. To put it simply, when two people combine different talents to cooperate on a worthy project, their efforts produce the equivalent not of four people but rather the work of twentytwo.

How: Sometimes we want to go it alone, either because we find it difficult to work with others, or because we want the limelight of good actions on ourself. Or we...

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Be a good neighbour

Sura Nisa verse 4:36: And do good to parents, the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the near neighbour and the distant neighbour.

Reflection: Islam is all about honouring our vertical relationship with Him and our horizontal relationships with others. One of the categories of people whose rights we need to be mindful of are neighbours.

Islam considers forty homes around ours, in all four directions, as being neighbours and the verse specifies that we need to do good to both the near and the distant neighbours.

In other words, doing good should extend to the whole neighbourhood or community in which we live.

Why? Such a simple commandment that can greatly improve the quality of our lives and society as a whole. When we live in neighbourhoods that are strongly connected and secure, our daily lives are enhanced and our children benefit.

How? What does being a good neighbour mean to you? Are you careful of not being a nusiance? Do you watch out for their property in their absense or...

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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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