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Taking action can change your feelings (DW#471)

emotions feelings objective Oct 15, 2018

We have been discussing how feelings come and go, and how we can learn to accept our emotions.

It bears repeating that emotions by themselves do not force us to do anything. Nor do they, by themselves, ever get us into trouble. 

Our choice and responsibility kicks in when we decide how to act, not when we are feeling the feeling. In other words, it is our actions and behaviours that have consequences for ourselves and for others. 

If we only work when we feel like it, it will get us fired from our jobs. If we lash out at our children every time we feel frustrated, the authorities might step in (not to mention that our children will be traumatized). If we act on every sexual temptation that we encounter, we will likely get divorced. If we act out every angry feeling we have, we may end up in jail. Do you get the picture? 

This is why it is so crucial to differentiate behavior from internal feelings and emotional states: we feel how we feel but we need to act in...

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What it means to stand with Hussain (DW#455)

Today's wisdom comes from my daughter Sara who wrote this piece on what it means to stand with Imam Hussain (as) 

As this year's azadari comes to a close, I've been thinking about what values this annual commemoration draws out of me: 

if I am with Hussain (as), I value and honor the significance of histories and herstories of oppression and of standing up against injustice, and I make a conscious effort to remember them in community. I believe in the power of storytelling. I do not dismiss these stories for being "so long ago" or of a different people or from a far away place. 

if I am with Hussain (as), I stand with the systematically oppressed, silenced, disenfranchised, abused, tortured, murdered, and imprisoned

if I am with Hussain (as), I work towards a level of commitment to justice for the aforementioned where I am willing to give up anything and everything - my comfort, my wealth, my ego, and my life - in pursuit of it

if I am with Hussain (as), I am of those...
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How can I help? (DW#433)

One of the best ways we can be supportive to our love ones is to actually ask them how they would like to be supported. 

Whether it is the morning panic to leave the house, a particularly stressful time at work or another life stressor, asking how we can help lighten their load is more effective than guessing how they would prefer to be supported by us. 

So the next time a loved one appears stressed or overburdened, simply ask: How can I help? Just knowing that someone is willing to do what it takes to ease our situation can be hugely de-stressing in itself. 

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You made me do it (DW#423)

objective productivity Jun 27, 2018

As human beings we mess up and make mistakes. Quite often. We sometimes behave badly with those who matter most to us. 

And when we are confronted about our poor behavior or judgment by a loved one, it feels uncomfortable and it is anxiety provoking. It can be tempting to deny our role in making someone upset by denying responsibility, or worse by blaming them for our own behavior. 

For those of us who are parents, our children can sometimes really push our buttons. We may lose it from time to time and get ashamed by our behavior. At this point, we say things like "You made mom/dad mad". "Look what you made me do". We may believe that we are hiding the fact that we fell short of our own values and we feel ashamed. But lets not kid ourselves. Our children can pick up on the fact that we are shirking responsibility. And the lesson they learn from this is NOT the one we want them to learn!

Similarly, in adult relationships which are abusive or severely distressed, there can...

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Continue calling on Him through Dua (DW#419)

4. Dua
One of the most special things about Ramadan are the moments of connection to Him through Dua or supplication. The process of turning to Him and asking from Him enriches us beyond measure and gives us spiritual strength.

Whereas sharia applies to our outward actions and its job is to regulate human action in order to create the basis of social justice, Dua is the training the heart to love the Creator, to experience His love and to understand that the more you love Him, and have a personal relationship with Him, the more you understand that the laws of sharia are to help you reach your full potential.


The Duas that we have been reciting during this month all emphasize the personal quality of Allah's relationship with us and His all-encompassing love. Dua is therefore a vital practice to cultivate spirituality and nurture our connection to Him.

Baby steps:
Look through a compilation of Dua such as the Sahifa Sajjadiya or the Duas of Imam Ali (as). Pick one that calls to you.

Pick a...

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Continue the practice of giving (DW#418)

3. 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 yourself...

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Continue reflecting on the message (DW#417)

objective spirituality Jun 19, 2018

2. 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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Purify yourself (DW#405)

Sura Baqarah, verse 222: and He loves those who purify themselves.

Tahara or ritual purity is one of the cornerstones of the Muslim faith. We have to cleanse ourselves before acts of worship in order for the worship to be valid. 

Physical purity is, of course, only the starting point of tahara or purity. 

When the Quran says that He loves the muttahiroon, those who purify themselves, we need to understand that purification of the body, mind and heart are all important to become those who are loved by Him. 

How are some of the ways we can purify ourselves?

  1. Stay in a constant state of physical purity
  2. Purify our mind of negative thoughts – about Him, about ourselves and about others
  3. Purify our heart of anger, resentment, jealousy
  4. Purify our intentions for acts of worship and for good deeds
  5. Purify our dealings in business and with each other
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And Allah loves the Sabiroon (DW#402)

objective spirituality May 29, 2018

Sura Al-Imran (3:146): and Allah loves the Sabiroon. 

In this verse, the Quran gives the example of previous Prophets who remained steadfast in the face of difficulties in the Path of Righteousness and ends by saying that Allah loves the sabiroon, meaning those who are patient and steadfast. 

The word sabr is often translated as patience but in reality, it has three aspects:

  1. The aspect of restraint, of stopping yourself from something unworthy, of having self-control when faced with temptation
  2. The aspect of perseverance or will-power in pursuing something worthy, of having the discipline to do something which you may not necessarily want to do in the moment 
  3. And the aspect of acceptance and submission when trouble strikes about which you cannot do anything. In other words, submitting to His Will

So in order to develop the quality of sabr, which is loved by Allah, we need to practice restraint from things disliked by Him, we need to persevere...

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Step up to leadership (DW#400)

Here is today's edition of wisdom from the Quran:

He said, ‘Put me in charge of the store houses of the land, I am indeed reliable, well-informed.’ (Sūrat Yūsuf 12:55, Holy Quran)
This verse from Sura Yusuf is Prophet Yusuf (as)’s reply to the Egyptian king when he appoints him to work for the government.
 
Prophet Yusuf (as) immediately suggests a specific position for himself and relates the qualities which make him ideal for this position.
 
We are sometimes confused about what it means to be humble – this verse shows us that humility is not at odds with putting yourself forward for a good cause when you have the qualifications and the capability of doing it well and when it is for a good cause.
 
In the days of self promotion and social media, this verse gives us solid advice on how and when to promote oneself:
 
Knowledge: he is well-informed. He has done his homework about the situation. It is not a case of feeling entitled to a...
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