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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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Walk with humility

In Sura Isra (17:37) Allah says: Do not strut arrogantly about the earth, you cannot break it open, nor match the mountains in height.

We live in a culture which encourages self aggrandization and promotes "struting our stuff". This ayat reminds us that such arrogance in thinking and self congratulatory behaviour is not compatible with leading a spiritual life.

Scholars explain that insolence, or arrogance, or undue elation at our powers or capacities, is the first step to many evils. Pride as the old saying is, goes before a fall. Pride and arrogance keeps our focus on ourselves and prevent us from seeing the big picture and from connecting to others in service. It also gives us a very skewed perspective of our own importance and leads us to devalue others.

In order to keep our balance and perspective, we need to remind ourselves that all our gifts and talents are His Grace and they carry a responsibility of serving a bigger purpose.

The verse also reminds us that what goes on in...

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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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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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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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