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I told you so (DW#430)

This phrase might just be in the running for the worst possible phrase or the least helpful thing that you can say if you want to build strong relationships. 

While yesterday’s phrase "If I were you" is usually said beforedisaster happens, "I told you so" is generally used after the advice is not heeded and ‘disaster’ ensues. 

"I told you so" can be said in many different ways, of course: 
I told you so. 
I knew this would happen. 
I could see this one coming
I could’ve told you this was coming. 
Can I tell you…I thought this might be the result?
I knew it!!
No surprise that this happened, is it? 

The reason it is so damaging to relationships is because we use it when the person on the receiving end is likely already feeling pretty bad about something that happened. And saying I told you so is guaranteed to make them feel worse even though it might make us feel superior and smug by reminding them how much they need our...

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If I were you . . . (DW#429)

Many of us love giving advice, thinking to ourselves: "I should really share the wealth of my knowledge, wisdom and experience – I am sure the recipient of my advice will be very grateful indeed". 

And then we get very confused when the advice is rejected or remains unheeded  . . .

Here’s the thing: one of the worst ways of giving advice is to start it with "If I were you  . . ." before we have finished this sentence, the person on the receiving end of this advice is saying to themselves:
But you are not me
My situation is different 
You just don’t understand 

And all that valuable advice that we so graciously shared has now gone to waste – sigh! Such a shame, no?

It turns out that of the many ways of giving advice, the most effective one is to simply share information about something. A study on this subject found that information advice was the most effective and the one most likely to be heeded. Information advice...

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Not this again! Can’t you just drop it... (DW#428)

Today’s phrase is another variation of blaming the other person for issues in the relationship. 

"Not this again!" can be said in many ways:
"Oh no, here we go again" - eye roll and heavy sigh included –
"You never let anything drop, do you?"
"Why do you make such a big deal about things that are not important?"
etc. etc. etc.

 

The message in each version is similar:

 

"Something is wrong with you that you cannot drop this issue – you have no grounds to be upset. I don’t see it as a big deal, I don’t respect what you have to say and I’m not willing to listen, communicate with you or change in any way. This issue is not important to me even though it matters to you. The problem is clearly you and not me".

 

As you can imagine, this message is more likely to damage the relationship rather than make the issue go away. It is likely to add fuel to the fire as when we are upset, we want to be listened to and heard, not told that we...
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Fine whatever (DW#426)

Have you ever felt completely exasperated in your efforts to reach someone? To get them to understand your point of view? 

Ever felt so exasperated that you say: "fine, whatever" as a signal that you are giving up on this argument? As a signal that you are metaphorically throwing up your arms in resignation? 

While it is not realistic to agree on everything or even understand where the other person is coming from, it is important to keep talking about issues that mean something to you (or them). In the absence of continuing communication on important matters, misunderstanding and resentment is likely to grow in the relationship in the place of love and connection. 

In other words, if we say "fine, whatever" enough times we will find ourselves quitting on the whole relationship rather than just the argument at hand.

 

So the next time we feel defeated in an effort to be understood, let us be brave and remind ourselves that if the relationship is important to us, we...
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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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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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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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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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Be fair (DW#406)

Sura Maida, verse 42: Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (Quran 5:42)

The verse Indeed Allah loves those who act equitably or with justice appears in several places in the Quran (5:42; 49:9; 60:8) and it means that we should deal with others on the basis on timeless ethical principles revealed by God and not in accordance with our own personal arbitrary whims or likes/dislikes. It also means that we should give everyone their due and be conscious of the obligations that we have to people in our family, community and society. 

Justice or acting equitably can be very challenging when it is against our own interests or those of our loved ones. 

But in order to become those who are loved by Allah, no less is demanded of us. 

In Sura Nisa, Allah reminds us that the command to have fair-dealings with others applies even if we have to go against our loved ones. Justice, He reminds us, trumps relationships and needs to be maintained without fear or favour.

...

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Rely on Him (DW#403)

Verse 159 from Sura Al-Imran: So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. (Quran 3:159)

This verse refers to the Holy Prophet(saw)’s demeanor with his companions after the disaster on the battlefield of Uhud when some companions flagrantly disobeyed him. The Prophet did not reproach them harshly although the disobedience had led to a major defeat for the Muslims. 

Here the Quran testifies to the gentle nature of the Prophet (saw) which endeared him to all, and it is reckoned as one of the Mercies of Allah. One of the Prophet's titles is "A Mercy to all Creation." At no time was this gentleness, this mercy, this long-suffering with human weaknesses, more valuable than...

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