Posts from October 2015

Ten Percent

October 26, 2015

Ravi_Varma-Lady_Giving_Alms_at_the_TempleIn order to be more purposeful in my spending on worthy causes specifically and on anyone but myself in general I’ve decided to donate 10% of the money I have each month. I’m the queen of forgetful but I hope to keep this up every month and writing this little post will help me do so.

Being jobless as of now my funds don’t usually tip over $500 on any given day making my donation max at $50 a month. I’ve heard stories of people giving half of their wealth to charity and I think that’s amazing. I hope I can work toward that one day but for now we start at 10%. The truth is if you have $100 you’ll probably get along just fine with $90, most of us have have a source of income and small extravagances that can be reduced and redirected towards good. Spending $45 a week on groceries instead of $50 won’t make a big difference in your food consumption. Putting it aside and consistently giving it to a cause or someone other than yourself can strengthen bonds, help fund a worthy cause, or give a few necessities to those in need.

Of course a lot is more than a little but consistency is the greatest gift -as the sufi saying goes, “the greatest miracle is to be steadfast”. Not just to others but to our selves. To become not merely consumers but also givers. I encourage you to make this small change today, don’t delay it and don’t make excuses. Start lower if you want at 1% and make an intention to keep it up. We have to give to make this world and ourselves better.

_____
At the end of this month I’ll be giving to this cause, God willing.

The Sinner Forgets

October 19, 2015

photo-2I’m not sure if it’s just common knowledge of the saints, hadith or in the Quran but the idea that the sinners forgets and therefore those who want to strengthen there memory should leave off sin came to my mind on my cab ride home. I’m about to take on a heavy load of studying, much of which will require loads of memorization if I’m too succeed. But memorization is not simply the repetition of facts, sacred knowledge requires more than just hour after hour of study. There’s a famous story of Imam Al Shafi’i as a student:

One day he came in to a market and there before him as the wind blew he saw the ankle of a women. After some time he complained to his teacher about his issues in memorization. Having not yet put the two together Imam Shafi’i’s teacher informed him that knowledge does not enter the heart of the sinful and thereupon he repented.

Looking at the ankle of a woman compared to our modern day daily exposure to pornographic images may not seem like much but for a man like Shafi’i it was. And maybe it can help to explain why men like Shafi’i no longer exist. Even some of the greatest scholars of our time watch TV and will be exposed to far more than ankles (even if they just watch the news). The small point I want to make to myself and to anyone reading is that if we’re serious about our studies, in particular our religious studies, we have to also be serious about ourselves. Knowledge is not only less likely to enter the heart of the sinful but is also a grave sign that one has not obtained real knowledge if they remain sinful. Whatever evil we can remove from our lives for both our memory and our salvation, let us look now and remove it.

I adore you

October 18, 2015

For reasons unknown I wrote two versions of this poem, one on June 27th, 2014 and the other on March 7th, 2015. I’m not sure which one I like better, if it seemed appropriate I’d combine them, but I couldn’t reach any certainty on doing so and so it remains two. I often write and forget about it. It sits in my phone or in a notebook until the day I find myself singing it -many of my poems are in reality songs but since they just sit in a notebook or behind a screen it seems more appropriate to term them poems. I started singing to this to myself today and thought to share the latter version with you dear reader, please enjoy:

I Adore You
I
I
Adore you
You keep me where I’m safe
At home
When I’m afraid
I
I
Adore you

You who came out of the blue
And rescued me from my blues

 

Minimalism vs. Versatility

October 16, 2015

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“When the earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake. And the earth discharges its burdens. And man says, “What is with it?” -That Day, it will report its news. Because your Lord has commanded it. That Day, the people will depart separated [into categories] to be shown [the result of] their deeds. So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” 99, 1-8

After reading what I thought to be two excellent articles on the “slow fashion, pay per wear, capsule wardrobe, wear the same thing everyday… movement” I was both surprised and unsurprised by the commentary below both articles. Both had the same basic idea, buy less and get more out of what you wear. One of the articles focused mostly on cost, buy good quality clothes that you love less often and pay a significant price for them forcing yourself to put more thought behind each purchase. The writer specifically suggested not purchasing anything less than $150, just enough to make the spender a bit more self aware. The comments on this article ranged from people who thought the idea was ridiculous and people who thought the writer was out of touch to those who didn’t think it made a difference in terms of what the clothing factory worker would be paid. Is a $150 shirt really guaranteeing the worker get paid more than the $15 shirt or is it merely putting more money in to the designers’ hand? On the second article it emphasized being iconic, less stressed, and less time wasted on choosing from a plethora of outfit choices. I understood the negative feedback on the first article since telling people to spend more money on something they can get for significantly less is never going to be popular, the negative feedback on the second article came in a more interesting form -what about versatility? What about those who enjoy choosing a new outfit every morning?

I was really surprised by the second round of feedback. It’s a good point, if you love fashion then why wouldn’t you want to enjoy a versatile closet and a range of choices? And if, to tie it in to the first batch of commentary, there is nothing to show workers get paid more if you buy less but more expensive items, what’s the real incentive?

Firstly I’d have to say the mistake the first article made was to not also emphasize and encourage buying American made clothes and clothes made from any country in which there are regulatory laws on work environment, places were unions and minimum wage exists. My guess is that anyplace -besides America, in Western Europe would abide by those standards, I’m sure there are other places but that would take some research. The last time I went shopping at a local store in my neighborhood I was pleasantly surprised to find two garments that were ‘made in America’ and both were less than $50. Another issue that should be further emphasized is the environment. The more we continue to produce tons of stuff we don’t need we hurt the environment, buying less allows us not to continue to contribute to the earth’s burden. Something we usually forget and will forever stick with me (God willing) from the documentary ‘No Impact Man‘, “‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ is in order of importance”. If we refuse to reduce or reuse at the very least we must recycle and give our old clothes to those in need.

I sometimes think about how much money I spend on myself compared to others and I must say it’s shameful. The amount of money we spend on frivolous things to make our selves feel better, to raise our self esteem, to express our selves, the less money we have to spend on the things that actually matter. Imagine what would happen if we bought just %15 less clothing items and allocated that money to the poor or to a worthy cause. For me that is the greatest motivation behind the movement that can be simply put as “being more intentional with one’s time and money”.

Here are the articles I referred to and one bonus which I also love:

  1. The Case For Expensive Clothes
  2. Wearing The Same Clothes EveryDay

Bonus: hello.jcrew.com/2014-10-oct/alice-gregory

Beginning to understand the body

October 15, 2015

biscuit-932692_1280The process of weight loss primarily through calorie counting has really helped me begin to understand the body. For instance I could never understand how morbidly obese people could lose weight in astonishing amounts over short periods of time while most of us find it difficult to lose weight the less overweight we are. For example it won’t take very long -with diet and small amounts of exercise, for a morbidly obese person to lose 100 pounds but if you’re merely 20- 30 pounds overweight you’ll have to put in quite a bit more effort to shed the pounds. Well now I’ve learned the more overweight you are the more your body expedites energy in your daily movement, your body needs to burn more energy to keep going. The more weight you lose the less energy it takes your body to keep going so you have to put in far more effort. Of course the other component is calories in, the amount of energy you give your body. If you always give your body the amount of energy it burns you won’t lose anything, you’ll stay the same. Once you start to consume less calories than you burn you’ll lose and if you consume more then you burn, you’ll gain.

Another question I didn’t understand -why is it easier to lose weight as you get older? Besides for a few moment here and there I was never an athletic person. When I look back on my youth the only increased effort I can think of is that I walked back and forth to school most days in high school and college but my diet back then, certainly in high school was worse than now. Well, as time goes on our body simply don’t release as much energy so even if you did all the same things as you age you’ll put on a few pounds, so if you want to lose or even stay the same you have to eat less or exercise more.

Maybe this is stuff most of you know but it’s been a big eye opener for me. Weight loss is largely a very logical feat. You can either eat less, exercise more or both. The journey to health isn’t just about calories, I’m currently interested in eating for my dosha (Ayurvedic medicine), but it helps a lot. Eating at about 1300 calories daily helps to guide me towards healthier eating simply because a muffin and Starbucks coffee can ‘cost’ 800 calories while a largely vegetable dish ‘costs’ significantly less.

We don’t -and I certainly didn’t, purposefully gain weight. Whether there’s an emotion occurrence that triggers weight gain or we just started enjoying our food too much, weight gain is largely an issue of being unaware. Losing weight can not only help us fit in to our old clothes but also regain consciousness and maybe when we’re ready, dust off an old Ghazali book and remember food is hardly the point of life.

If you need any help counting calories, figuring out how many calories you burn or setting up and account to keep track of your food click here, here, here and here (this is what I’ve been using).

Elevated

October 14, 2015

http://barnimages.com/

There was once a band of salafis going around to every town swearing they would cut the heads of any man who claimed Allah did not sit above the throne. They once came across a man known by many to be a Sufi. They sharpened their swords knowing this man would never respond to their inquiries correctly. They summoned him to the town square and asked him bluntly what they asked a hundred men before him: Where is God?

The Sufi had promised his Lord from the time of being a boy that he would never tell a lie. As he stared upon the sharpened blade he took a gasp of air wiped his forhead and responded: I know as do you that God is elevated

They looked at him surprised in his agreement, grunted, and carried on their way. Days passed and visitors stopped going to see the old Sufi as they he sold himself out for fear of death. Finally his closest friend came to him eyes lowered and ashamed: How could you lie for fear of death, you of all men know God is not contained by space?

The Sufi smiled slightly and continuing in his housework he said: Yes this is the case and I have never said differently, I merely said that God is elevated and is He not?

At this his friend was satisfied, he left the company of the old Sufi and related his words to the townspeople.

___________

Short and concise tafsir from our Facebook friend Kareem White:

This story teaches a win, win, win situation. The ‘Sufi’ spares his life and doesn’t lie on Allah. The ‘Salafi’ gets an acceptable answer that he cannot debate with and which does not incite any fitnah. The friend and townspeople remain satsfied with their teacher and don’t loose respect for him. Great story. As many of us know, a story does not need an isnad per se. Allah gives whom he chooses insight to gain lessons from them.”

Backbiting

October 9, 2015

18125242570_759b0782fa_bBelievers, stay away from conjecture; acting upon some conjecture may lead to sin. Do not spy on one another or back-bite. Would any of you like to eat the disgusting dead flesh of your brother? Have fear of God; God accepts repentance and is All-merciful. (49:12)

Backbiting is a part of life, or at least it has become so. It is so intertwined in our lives that we often forget it is forbidden in our religion. It is among the worse actions. God brings to mind no less than the imagery of a man eating the flesh of another. How disgusted are we with the idea of cannialism? And yet God choosing no less of an example -whether as spiritual reality, metaphor or both, to show us the grave sin of backbiting. I was given some advice that I should behave towards gossip as though it is forbidden (which of course it is) to the point where people know better than to talk against someone to me. This will no be an easy road as I realize how much we all enjoy gossip. We don’t purposefully enjoy it but there is something very appealing about talking about people behind their back, for one we don’t get to hear their side of the story, we create reality as we see fit. We create their story without their input, we take all the control. But as easy and as horrifyingly enjoyable as it is to back bite it’s also not difficult to see why God would ask us in relation to it if we’d like to eat the flesh of our brother. There is something about backbiting that feels very much like devouring someone. And when we think of others speaking against us in private our stomachs turn and we grow in fury. It’s no surprise that colloquially talking badly about someone is called “chewing them out”. We know what we’re doing. We have to not only stop engaging in backbiting but also treat it like the horrying reality it is – “Would any of you like to eat the disgusting dead flesh of your brother?”

I pray God helps us in this matter. And lastly I have to note to myself and to you dear reader, this includes gossip about celebrities, famous people and politicians -they are after all still human beings.

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Newsletter [Monthly Reflections] Here: Goo.gl/nO1Toz

Losing

October 7, 2015

10917_806429192767351_7927281553411089624_n-2_Fotor-555x350Sometimes we love people so much that we begin to fear losing them. We panic wondering what we’ll do if they ever leave us. We dread long gaps between texts messages, long awaited phone calls and distance eyes. We worry if we’re losing them as each moment goes by and don’t even realize. Have they already checked out and were the only ones still holding on?

Losing a loved one isn’t easy and it is worth stressing but in our anxiety do we stop and think about the time that has already passed? Do we take a moment in gratitude recalling the joyous moments we share with that person? Maybe they will leave, maybe things will end and we can cry then but now and maybe even when it ends -since all things do end, why not take a moment to thank God for the amazing human being he brought in to your life and the amazing joy it is to have even one soul even momentarily connected to yours. What a bounty worth being grateful for.

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Newsletter [Monthly Reflections] Here: Goo.gl/nO1Toz

LIfe lessons

October 7, 2015

There’s so much to learn, always.

Arabic grammar is… complex but I’m glad to have a go at it. I can almost say I’ve been studying Arabic for 10 or 12 years if I count all my failed attempts but the past year has been my best attempt and this year will be better, in sha Allah. It’s a struggle, every level is even more complicated but I do have to at least give myself a small pat on the back -we’ve come a long way. Tassawuf (Scrupulousness in worship) is the same journey only much much longer and far more difficult and more plainly obvious that I am just a beginner.

A crash would be perfect

October 5, 2015

A crash would be perfect
Head to head
And it all ends
It all stops
Black out begins
And never ends

I’m not afraid of death
I’m more afraid to live
I’m most afraid to see him
Because I haven’t loved enough
Haven’t done enough
Didn’t live in fear
Didn’t really care

Consumed
By everything
Nothing with me
It’s only you I see
But that’s not enough to be
To live
With value added
With bottom lines considered
Within the red line
With in time

Allotted
And nothing more is giving

A crash would be perfect
Because I don’t want to risk
One step
A misstep
And live forever without him
So let me die before it’s too late
But the beloved said don’t wish for this state
So I won’t wish for death
I’ll just hope to live
With nothing consuming me
But him

As long as life is worth living
And each sin is drenched in repentance

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