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Tell me more. (DW#434)

Today’s phrase, "tell me more", is one of those phrases that is multi-purpose and an overall great communication tool.

Tell me more can be used when you want to encourage the other person to talk more and share what is going on for them, especially if they are slow to open up. 

Tell me more can be used as a way to buy time for yourself and calm down when you have just heard something which is triggering you. Think of it as a way to give your brain a chance to respond rather than react. It is especially useful when you know that your first reaction is likely to shut down the other person rather than continue communication (such as when you "freak out" at something your children are telling you).

Tell me more can be used when you are really interested in something and genuinely are curious to learn more about what the other person is saying. It is a great way to learn from others and build friendship at the same time as people blossom at the chance to talk about...

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With all due respect (DW#425)

Almost always coupled with an insult or unsolicited advice, the phrase "with all due respect" is often used as way to say: "Prepare to be disrespected." "I’m going to say something now that will most likely offend you but since I have said "with all due respect" you cannot really complain".

Many people find this phrase so annoying that it regularly shows up on the lists of most disliked phrases.

So the next time you are going to disagree with someone or present your opinion which might be controversial or unpopular, start by acknowledging what others are saying and make sure you understand the various aspects of the discussion. You can then state your opinion in a respectful way without using the phrase "with all due respect".

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You always/you never (DW#422)

When we are in the midst of conflict, it seems that the other person is consistently annoying – they are always late – they never keep their word – they are always grumpy – they never pick up after themselves – they never listen to us – they always have the last say etc etc etc. 

By sharing the ways that they always or never do certain things, we are trying to build a solid case of how we are being let down. 

The problem with using generalizations like always and never is that they are seldom accurate. People are just not that consistent. There will always be times when they are not what we are accusing them of. 

Moreover, the minute they hear always or never in an accusatory tone, their mind becomes super busy trying to find exceptions to our case against them. Once they find even a single exception (and they generally do!), they will do their best to prove us wrong, our case is destroyed and we have lost the...

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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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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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Hardship and ease come together (DW#414)

Sura Inshirah: Truly with hardship comes ease! [Quran: 94:5]

Such a beautiful and hopeful verse of the Quran! And the phrase is repeated in the next verse for emphasis. 

While we often read that there is a silver lining in the clouds, that hard times eventually pass, this verse reminds us that there is relief and ease not after a trial or challenging time, but right along with it

Truly with hardship comes ease. 

When we are going through tough times and challenges, we sometimes get tunnel vision: our focus narrows only to the pain or the challenge and we fail to notice things that are working as they should or are in fact working for our benefit. When our knees are hurting for example, we may not notice that the rest of our body is in fact, pain free. We begin to lose perspective and begin to see our whole life in terms of the challenge or the difficulty. 

At times like this, it is useful to remember that no matter how bad things may seem at...

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Avoid secret conversations (DW#413)

Sura Nisa: There is no good in most of their secret talks except in he who enjoins charity, or goodness, or reconciliation between people. [Quran 4:114]

During the time of the Holy Prophet (saw), his enemies would gather in small groups, whisper amongst themselves and plot against him. In this verse, the Quran cautions against having secret conversations amongst people while leaving others out, except if it to do charity or advise towards kind deeds or to make amends between people.

This verse about social etiquette has deep psychological wisdom. It refers to when two or more people gather to talk secretly excluding others. In another place in the Quran, najwa or a secret conversation is referred to as an act of Shaytan (Quran 58:10) as it is often done with ill intentions, either to plot evil, to form inappropriate relationships or to deceive someone. A conversation that is well intentioned on the other hand, generally does not require the covering of...

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Pay it forward (DW#412)

Sura Qassas: and do good (to others) as Allah has done good to you[28:77] 

This verse, addressed to the rich despot Qarun, reminds him that the bounties that he has been granted are a gift from God, to be used in good works and charity. That he should be a conduit of these blessings, keeping the flow of blessings going by passing some of them on to those in need, rather than hoarding them all for himself.

Qarun believed that what he had was solely a result of his own hard work. He failed to see that the abundance of blessings can be a test to see how we will use these blessings. He forgot about all those who could have benefited from sharing in the blessings that were granted to him and instead he squandered them in meaningless ways and to feed his whims and passions. 

The lesson for us is this: whatever we have been granted of material, intellectual or social bounties are a trust from Him. These gifts need to be engaged as a force for good in this world rather than...

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Harkat mein barkat (DW#411)

In Verse 39 of Sura Najm, Allah says: And that man shall have nothing but what he strives for. (Holy Quran 53:39)

For today’s verse, I could not find a better title than the Urdu phrase: Harkat mein barkat, meaning there is blessing in movement/striving. One of the principles of life, taught by experience and by Divinity, is that human beings get what they strive towards.

It is important to note that what the Quran is telling us is that our outcome will be in accordance with our striving. What this means is that it intention and effort that counts. In the material world, we are told that winning is everything and that being second best does not count. 

However, in our relationship with God, winning and the outcome does not matter as much as the effort and the intention with which any action is undertaken. The outcome, of course, is never really in our control in the first place. We can work really hard at something and still not get the outcome we hoped...

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