God-conscious


Being Thankful to the Creator Via Creation

Dark green forests abutting a flowing river traveling into the distance.

We are all in need. Think not? We’re in need of our next breath, our next heartbeat, and countless other necessities. Realizing that we’re in constant need, and that the Creator satisfies our needs constantly, should be very humbling. But, how would we act when the Creator puts people needing compassion in our paths?

Self-reference is one of the keys to honesty and spiritual growth. Let’s apply some self-reference to this question. The difference between our status and the Creator is monolithic, yet he treats us so generously. Why would a far greater being care for something as insignificant as us? It’s because of his kindness and compassion.

We all want to be treated with compassion by this immense, supreme being. So how should we behave when someone “needy” crosses our path? The honest answer is to treat everyone with an expression of gratitude to the Creator by being kind and compassionate to our fellow creation.

Only someone being dishonest, someone detached from reality and arrogant, thinks that they’re better than another person. In reality, there is no difference between the arrogant (i.e. one who thinks he isn’t needy) and another person who knows that he is needy (there is an enormous difference spiritually, of course):

The Quran confirms this beautiful verse from the Bible:

“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (New International Version, Matthew 19:24).

This doesn’t literally mean that the financially wealthy will not enter Heaven, as we know Prophet Solomon was also very wealthy. By “rich man” it means an arrogant person, since those with “wealth” in anything usually think they are beyond need and better than other people.

The Quranic verse confirming the above follows:

“Those who reject our signs and turn away from them in arrogance,  the gates of Heaven will not open for them and they will not enter the Garden until the camel passes through the eye of the needle. Thus do we reward the criminals” (The Quran, 7:40).1

Creator, may we be grateful for your kindness by being kind to our fellow creation. Whether it is providing food to the hungry, respect to the disrespected, kindness to those treated wrongly, or knowledge to those in need, and even of the arrogant, help us offer healing for this sickness (never forget self-reference: we must treat ourselves this way as well). Thank you for making our existence a manifestation of your kindness.

See you next post, God willing 🙂

Footnotes:

1. This is the verse from the Quran stating how it relates to the Bible and other scriptures: “We have revealed to you the Book in Truth as a confirmation for what came before it from the Book and as a guard for it […]” (The Quran 5:48).

The Quran confirms the beauty and truth in Biblical scripture, but it’s also a guard that protects previous scriptures from the changes that self-serving interests have made to it over time (2:79). For example, saying the prophets, willfully or through other ills, engaged in terrible acts like Prophet David committing adultery then conspiring to have the woman’s husband killed, that Prophet Solomon became an idol-worshiper before passing, or that Prophet Lot’s daughters made him drunk and then did obscene things with him-God forbid (See 2 Samuel 11, Genesis 19:32).

Here are some details. This is what was said about Prophet Solomon in the Bible:

“For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done” (New American Standard Bible, 1 kings 11 4-6).

And here is the Quran protecting the original message of the scriptures:

“And they follow what the devils recite against the kingdom of Solomon. Solomon did not disbelieve (by worshiping idols) […]” (The Quran, 2:102).

Please feel free to share any thoughts.


Materialism: The Lower Nature & Development Part 1 1

materialism_lowernature_development

We don’t make the sun shine. We don’t make food grow from the dirt. We didn’t create ourselves, and neither do we keep our hearts beating. And one fateful day we will certainly pass away. What am I getting at? This is a reminder of how dependent we are. But the lower nature, that stagnates on the material plane, tries life and limb to convince us that we, or whatever material thing we worship, are really independent.

Why does the lower nature insist upon materialism? Well, it’s the path of least resistance. It’s like a rock rolling downhill. That’s just how it works. Whether it’s object materialism (worshiping property: seeking its possession as life’s purpose and forsaking the higher nature in its pursuit)1, communal materialism (worshiping a community or system: seeking to be part of a community so we blindly obey its dictates even when it’s against our God-given, higher nature—this communal system can be religious, tribal, political, or whatever organizing institution you think of; this type of materialism is striking because it helps religious materialists realize their sickness),2 power materialism (worshiping our lower nature: seeking to serve our lower desires for power, influence, and lust), or pain materialism (fixating upon some worldly loss that detaches us from higher awareness and keeps us from developing and maturing).3

A person can lean more towards one type of materialism or be infected by all of them.

The purpose of God’s message is to help us develop from the lower, materialistic plane so that we could mature into aware beings. Don’t get me wrong. The material world is important; it’s our foundation for thought and inference that lead directly to the Creator:

“He makes the corn, the olive, the date-palms, the grapes, and every kind of fruit grow forth for you. In that is a sign for people who reflect” (16:11)

There you have it. We become aware by using our God-given faculties of thought and understanding to reflect upon the signs in the material world. This place is our womb for development. Serving the material world, a created thing, as if it were the Creator is the sickness that we’re being called to mature from. This is how we grow, how we live in awareness and tranquil positivity.

Remember the contrast of dependent and independent. The independent is always superior to the dependent, just as light is superior to night, heat is superior to cold, and so on. Everything material is dependent, and so it can never be worthy of worship (worship also means service.) Only the Independent, the Creator, is worthy of our worship.

This is part 1 of this article on materialism. Please click here to read part 2.

See you next post, God willing 🙂

Footnotes:

1. “Worship” here means anything that we serve, applying ourselves to obtain satisfaction or fulfill a purpose.

2. One sign of a religious materialist is a person who gives their system the attributes of God. They often judge others and condemn them to hell or bless them to Heaven, although these are God’s prerogatives. They declare that no one can have knowledge unless they go through their system, although God gives knowledge to whomever he pleases. It’s not an institution that gives knowledge to whomever it pleases. Religious materialists put limits on God’s power and confer those abilities to their system.

3. These categories of materialism aren’t mutually exclusive and their boundaries can be more blurred than strictly delineated.

 

Please feel free to share any thoughts.


Forgiving Yourself 4

Forgiveness

Today’s post is a bit personal and  shares some of the struggles in my journey. No matter how much I tried to progress personally and spiritually, something kept holding me back.

I notice myself easily being brought down by negative news. It’s like a bank, and every negative event that crosses me, I add to that account (with interest). I hold onto these bits of negativity and amass them. After the negativity permeates, boils, and spills over, I spread the frustration I feel to those around me, telling them about whatever injustice it was that took place.1

This is not beneficial, and only spreads the fire of negativity.

“God does not love loudly and openly speaking of evil—except for one who has been wronged—God is all-hearing, all-knowing” (4:148).

When we broadcast the evil around us, without a purpose and plan to correct it, we only end up spreading aimless frustration. This does no good at all and sets our spiritual condition ablaze, taking us back from the nearness to God that we so desperately seek.

In the very next verse is the simple, yet challenging answer to dealing with the negativity that keeps us from growing:

“If you reveal a good deed or hide it, or forgive an evil deed, then (know that) God is certainly ever pardoning and powerful” (4:149).

Forgiveness is the answer. And it’s not just forgiving others who do wrong in the world around us; forgiveness most importantly begins with seeking forgiveness from God for the wrongs we do to ourselves and others and then the very next crucial step is that we forgive ourselves.2

Not being able to forgive makes us hold onto anger, desperation, and pain. Forgiveness helps us transcend into higher levels of development that are just impossible to reach without it.

“Those who spend in prosperity and difficulty and those who restrain their anger and forgive mankind. God loves those who do Good” (3:134).

In my journey, I couldn’t keep a promise I made to myself when I was young (and immature), and never forgave myself for it. Like a fractal pattern, everything starts from within, then manifests outward. By not forgiving myself, I could not truly forgive others. This is what has been holding me back. I kept holding onto whatever negativity came my way because of it.

Seek forgiveness from God, forgive yourself, and forgive others.

I hope that you benefit from this article.

 

Footnotes:

1. For example, if someone wrongs me, then I may speak of it to someone else and end up backbiting, which is terrible and stifles spiritual progress. Also, by aimlessly spreading negative news that hurts me deeply, I fall into the same boat, rowing backwards instead of forwards.

2. “And do not be like those who have forgotten God, so he has made them forget themselves. (Indeed) those are the wicked” (59:19).

Conversely, if we remember God, then he will allow us to remember ourselves. Applying this point to the theme of this article: we remember God and ask his forgiveness, then he allows us to remember our own higher nature. It is our higher nature that forgives our own lower nature. This is how we forgive ourselves for the times that we let ourselves down. If we cannot forgive ourselves, we can never forgive others.

 

Please feel free to share any thoughts.


See the Unseen

Stretch into the Light

We clamor to the immediacy
of what we see,
Blind to the immediacy
of the Unseen—
Although it’s Far Supreme:
Humility,
Patience,
Tenacity,
Discipline,
Unity
With Oneness,
Harmony,
With the Universe’s
Creator—
Know,
To attain Mastery,
Stop being reactionary,
finding quick release
of lowest tendencies:
anger,
gluttony,
pain,
conformity,
ignorance—
The path of
least resistance.
See the Unseen,
Be Aware
Of the Creator—
Always—
Who supersedes
All lowest immediacies.


How We Reach The Summit

Trees, Mountains, and a Blue Sky

We can achieve our highest stage of development by letting go of our lower nature—offering it to the Creator—and living through our higher nature instead. How do we reach the summit:

“But he did not rush towards the steep mountain path. And what would explain to you what the steep mountain path is? Freeing a slave, or feeding (others) on the day of famine; an orphan of kin, or a person in abject poverty” (90:11-12).

The higher nature is boundless hope, confidence, humility, honesty, goodness and tranquility. And it really does take the losses & challenges of this world to point us in that direction. “We will certainly try you by fear and hunger; and loss of property, lives, and fruits. But let the patient rejoice.”  (2:155).

The lower self is possessive. It never wants to let go. Whether it’s holding on to some worldly benefit or holding on to some worldly pain, it just keeps holding on. The higher nature doesn’t depend on the material, so it’s always letting go. It depends on God directly. And through this, God gives us material benefit. This is what brings us balance in this life. It’s how we seek “the good in this world and the good in the next […]” (2:201). We can only fully experience the good in this world through our higher nature. Living by the lower nature means we interact with the world through a diseased heart and ultimately turn our surroundings to waste.

The losses we face, no matter how great, bring us closer to consciousness and purifying our hearts from diseases of our lower nature. Here in this “lowest life”— the hayatu dunya, we can ascend the path to the highest heights: we can keep surrendering to the Creator. Losses remind us to lose the lower nature 🙂

Climb that steep mountain to the summit, and let’s live consciously!1

See you next post, God willing 🙂

 

Footnotes:

1. In this life, we never actually reach the summit of the mountain because we will never stop climbing until God recalls our souls. We never really lose our lower nature in this world. We keep trying though, fall down, get back up, and get ever closer day to day. Remember: our Lord is Ever-Forgiving 🙂

 

Please feel free to share any thoughts.


Is God Unknowable?

Beautiful Mountainous Landscape

Is God unknowable?1 The answer is a little bit No and a whole lot Yes.

We can know God. Well, we can know general things about him like his beautiful attributes: he is forgiving and just, he establishes the truth, he is majestic, he is The Judge, and many more.

Besides the general, though, we don’t really know God at all. We can never know God entirely or anywhere near it. To know something completely means that it has to have a beginning and an end. It has to be contained, and limited. Look at the alphabet for example. We know our ABCs completely because they have a beginning and an end. It starts on A and ends at Z. But God has neither beginning nor end!

Take water as another example. We know a bit about water. We know under certain conditions water will always freeze, and in other conditions water will always evaporate. At this point we can predict water’s behavior down to the tiniest conditions and control it. With God it’s the exact opposite. God is not controlled; he’s the one in control.

What does the Quran have to say about knowing God?

When Prophet Jesus speaks to God on the Day of Judgement, he says, “[…]You know what is in me, but I do not know what is in you. You are the Knower of all things hidden.” (5:116)

Even Prophet Jesus has nowhere near a complete knowledge of God in any sense whatsoever. A quick side note: although the Creator knows what is in our hearts, it’s through life’s journey that we discover the truth about our hearts for ourselves.

We surrender to the things we know about God and to all the endless, infinite things that we don’t. What do we know about God: the all-important basics of course. Our daily interactions with the Creator prove that he is there for us—he created this planet that provides food out of dirt—with him is all hope in any circumstance, he is the only one upon whom we can always trust, and so on. Please feel free to add many more beautiful basics of God that you’ve experienced 🙂

All truth helps us grow by leaps and bounds, but how does this truth help?

There’s a certain arrogance that festers when we think we truly know God. There’s also an electric liberation that comes by admitting we don’t.

People who say they know God end up putting limits on him. This happens without exception. They end up judging people as only God can. They think they can condemn someone to Hell or consider themselves or others a saint.

“Do not consider yourselves pure, he knows best who is righteous” (53:32).

They will literally tell someone that their prayer is not accepted for this or that superficial reason. Only God knows if a person’s prayer is accepted. Someone can make a prayer in Navajo and God will accept it. Another example is calling people kaafir (a thorough ingrate to God). These decisions are strictly in God’s domain. He is The Judge (Al-Qadi, Al-Haakim). He may judge the person being called kaafir as a true servant, while judging the accuser as the true kaafir.

“Oh you who believe, let not one people mock another people. It may be that the (ridiculed) are better than the (ridiculing)” (49:13).2

When we accept that we don’t truly know God, we can no longer play God, or pretend that God is our henchman. God is not going to do this or that if someone does this or that crime. In our worldly legal systems, we can try our best to be just and punish or forgive according to our higher nature (although our judicial systems often punish or forgive based on things like social control, nepotism, etc.), but God will never act according to our whims. He judges each person individually according to what they’re going through. That is the Creator’s prerogative.

“To God belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He forgives whomever he pleases and punishes whomever he pleases. God is Forgiving, Merciful” (48:14).

Accepting that, “[God] does whatever he pleases” (2:253) is a major step in purifying our self-serving, lower nature—the one that tries to set itself up as a god.3

When someone thinks they truly know God, they also try to limit his interaction with his creation. They believe that God only gives knowledge to people whom they deem worthy. If a seeker of Truth doesn’t go through specific avenues and institutions, they think God won’t bless that person with knowledge, or if knowledge is acquired, it’s inferior. This is false. It’s equivalent to saying, “God’s hands are tied.” Do you remember who made this statement before? The ungrateful did in 5:64. The Creator’s response:

“[…] Nay his hands are openly stretched out […]”(5:64).4

To realize that God’s hands are outstretched is to realize that we don‘t control God nor any of his blessings. Our knowledge cannot contain him. God encompasses all, but he is not encompassed. God gives whatever he pleases to whomever he pleases however he pleases.

“We have revealed signs making (all things) clear. God guides whomever he wills to a straight path” (24:46).

That feeling of liberation we get by admitting we don’t know God comes from surrendering our lowest self and giving up arrogance.

That’s right. We don’t know God entirely, but we do know of him though our interactions with him and his creation. God doesn’t do what we want or think. Yet, he always does what’s best. In this we have hope. Thus do we surrender to the limitless Creator of the universe.

See you next post, God willing 🙂

Footnotes:

1.Russell Brand mentioned that God was unknowable in one of his videos rebutting atheist claims about God not existing. His comment was the inspiration for this blog post analyzing how “knowable” God is using the Quran as the guide.

2.Note this verse addresses the believers and tells them not to let one qawm (which means nation, group, or people) mock another qawm. This verse is not saying that believers can mock people of other faiths but not their own. It’s telling believers that no group should mock another and that they should discourage anyone groups that do this since we are not God and cannot know God’s judgement of ourselves or any other people.

3.Remember Pharoah literally let his lower nature run amuck and made that exact statement proclaiming his “godhood.” Pharoah told his nation, “I am your Lord the Highest” (79:24).

4. Although this verse was said in the context of Jews denying that God blessed Prophet Muhammad, it still applies outside of this context because when we believe “God’s hands are tied” in any way whatsoever, we’re following the path “of those who earned anger and those who go astray” (1:7). God’s hands are ever outstretched to all of his creation.

 

Please feel free to share any thoughts.


God is Greater 4

Arabic Writing: God is Greater

Allahu Akbar:
God is Greater.
Greater than
any victimizer
Greater than the heedlessness—
the diseased mindlessness,
void of its Creator—
That fuels lowly
Light-less behavior
infects us
Like bites
of vampires
Converting us
into something other
than your True You
A virus
spreading, plaguing

Remember:
Our true immunity
Is what God inspired
Innately
In You
Reach this essential Truth
Yes, Within You
Through
Honesty,
Humility,
Goodness.
Why let viruses:
dishonesty, pomp, injustice,
Infect you too?

Remember
God is Greater
than any victimizer
than their behavior
Borne of Godlessness
God is Greater
Because God-mindfulness
Even Heals the victimizer!
Like a Light
Shining upon night
In the face of evil,
You be You
Your True You:
Repel the evil with better
and your enemy
will become
Your bosom friend (41:34)
This is Truth!
Light upon Light
This is what God calls you to,
Light that shines within You

God is Greater
than despair,
than blame
Hope is God’s name,
And Trust is our refrain

Ceaselessly
Seek the True
And submit
Only to it
Not to material
mindlessness—
lost in denial
and disease
ridden with pomp
and dishonesty—
And when we do interact
With behavior borne of night,
Repel the evil with the better!
Always Remember
God is Greater:
Allahu Akbar.


How Do We Fear God?

Questions Marks and a Blooming Rose

This post is about all the Quran’s verses reminding us to “fear God.” But what does this mean? Should we fear God like we fear a threat to our lives? If you’ve ever wondered about this, or wanted some clarity, then hopefully this post will benefit you.

Let’s start off with an incisive verse describing the context of “fearing God”:

“Indeed only those who fear God amongst his servants are those with knowledge. God is indeed Mighty, Oft-forgiving” (35:28)

This verse is saying that if you don’t have knowledge, then you won’t fear God. Only if you have knowledge will you fear him. That’s very important. There are two, different kinds of fear. The irrational fear of ignorance is one kind. It leads to paranoia, disease, and other destructive outcomes. Then there’s the kind of fear based on knowledge and truth. That is why the word for fear in 35:28, khasheya in Arabic, means “fear with veneration, respect, honor or awe.” 1 It does not mean the ignorant, destructive fear we commonly think of.

Fearing God has another context in the Quran: humility.

“Had We sent down this Quran upon a mountain, you would have seen it humble itself and split apart from fear of God. Thus do We provide examples to mankind so they may reflect” (59:21).

A form of khasheya was also used for fear here in the context of a mountain humbling itself and bringing itself low. We know what an evil seed arrogance is, right? An arrogant person wouldn’t humble himself from fear of God at all. But it is the humble that realize God’s majesty and crumble from the highest level to the lowest, prostrating upon the ground in awe of the Creator much like we do during prayer.

If “fearing God” in the ignorant sense were ever meant in the Quran, then the following verse wouldn’t make much sense:

“Do not be distressed for God is indeed with us” (9:40).

The word used above was not fear but distress. Distress comes from ignorant fear.2 Verse 9:40 repeats what Prophet Muhammad said to his friend Abu Bakr during their migration to Medina as they hid in a cave from approaching pursuers. Notice how being conscious of God makes all the distress, paranoia and ignorant fear disappear. If we were supposed to “fear God” in the ignorant sense, then the verse would say, “Be distressed for God is indeed with us!” But that, of course, isn’t the case 🙂

The following verse clearly marks the difference between the right and wrong kinds of fearing God:

“’Throw your staff (oh Moses)!’ But when he saw it undulating as if it were a snake, he turned away retreating and did not look back: ‘O Moses! Do not fear; indeed, messengers do not fear in my presence’” (27:10).

Notice how the closer you are to God, the more knowledge you have, and the less ignorant fear there is. In fact, it doesn’t exist at all since messengers have no fear of God in his presence. In this verse the Arabic word khaaf was used for fear. It is a synonym of khasheya. 3

There’s one more word used in the most common phrase translated as “fearing God.”

“Oh you who believe, be patient, vie with one another in patience, be steadfast and fear God so that you may prosper” (3:200).

Ittaqi Allah is the Arabic phrase in this verse. Ittaqi is translated as fear and Allah is translated as God. Ittaqi happens to be very closely related to the word taqwa: both are the same root word in different forms.

Taqwa has many meanings and is often translated as God-consciousness, righteousness, piety, and fearing God.4 The most basic root meaning is to guard or protect, and the derived form, ittaqi, literally means to “guard yourself.” That’s why it’s also translated as being mindful. In the phrase ittaqi Allah, it’s translated God mindfulness or fearing God. But the word has more meanings besides these. It also means to keep your duty or to take something in between you and another as protection, like armor.5

Let’s put all of this together, shall we? Ittaqi Allah can mean to fear God (not the ignorant fear), to respect your duty to God, to take God as your armor, thus guarding yourself with God. Ittaqi Allah does not mean to guard yourself against God. God is our true Helper and Protector, not our enemy (see 2:257).

Hopefully our discussion in this post has cleared a lot of things up. Let’s end with an insightful finale. Why did God create us?

“Oh Mankind, worship your Lord who created you and those before you so you may gain taqwa (God-consciousness)” (2:21).

“(He is) the one who created death and life to test you as to which of you is best in action. He is the Mighty, the Forgiving.” (67:2).

Looking at both of these verses together gives us a comprehensive answer. God created us to gain taqwa: the same word for fear and all the meanings mentioned previously. Fearing God in the Quran means to have awe of God in reverence through knowledge and humility, to take our Creator, The Truth, as a protector against wrong and to keep our duty to him by performing the most beautiful of deeds.

 

Footnotes:

  1. See Lane’s Lexicon, Volume 2, page 745. It’s interesting to note that khasheya also means to hope.
  2. Fear and distress are used side-by-side in many verses. This is the common refrain: “on them (the righteous) shall be no fear nor will they be distressed” (2:112, 2:262, 2:274, 2:277, 3:170, 6:48, 5:69, 7:35, 7:49, 10:62, and many more). The word huzn means grief or distress. This frequent juxtaposition indicates the closeness of fear and distress in origin and effect.
  3. Reference is same as footnote 1
  4. Click here to read the blog post delving into the meaning of taqwa and its use as a magnificent symbol of a garment/armor.
  5. See Lane’s Lexicon Volume 8, page 3059

 

See you next post God willing.

Please feel free to share any thoughts.


Personal Breakthroughs & Fractals

Personal breakthroughs and Fractals

Today’s blog post is about a huge personal breakthrough. Maybe it could help in your journey on God’s path too, so sit back and enjoy 🙂

Life is like a fractal pattern. A fractal pattern is so cool. I know this sounds nerdy, but give me a second because it’s really worth it. A fractal is any pattern that constantly repeats itself, whether you zoom way out, or zoom way in, you see the same pattern again and again. It’s very easy to spot in geometry. For example, if you draw a small circle and keep repeating it over and over, you will end up with a very big circle made up of a bunch of repeated circles within.

The concept of a fractal pattern is harder to see when it comes to our own lives though. Did you know that how you live life in a single day can represent the pattern of how you live your entire life?1 Say that a person blames someone else when they can’t find their socks. Guess what happens when a more major life event occurs, their first reaction is to blame someone else. The pattern always repeats—unless we are honest, acknowledge our mistake, and amend our behavior of course.

Where are fractals in the Quran? They’re in many verses, but we’ll save all the details for another blog post. For now, here’s one verse highlighting the fractal. It’s verse 5:32 and says whoever kills an innocent person it is as if he killed all of mankind, and if he saves an innocent person it is as if he saved all of mankind.

Did you see it? Whether you zoom way out—all of mankind, or zoom way in—just a single person, the pattern is the same!

Well, fractals are all well and good—in fact they’re beyond good since fractals applied to your personal life are some pretty life-changing, breakthrough stuff on their own. You can turn around all the bad habits in your life by stopping the tiny ones you‘re engaged in right now! Told you this was amazing!

What left me in more amazement was to see how fractals apply to iman—the confidence and belief we have in God.

Let’s simplify life down a whole lot. Let’s winnow life down to just two choices: we have the option to doubt or the option to have confidence.

Let’s be scientists here and think about this using all of our experiences as evidence. One option increases difficulty, while the other option increases success. Think about it. When has doubting yourself ever led to success? Now I don’t mean doubting that you can fly off a cliff is a bad thing. I’m saying that doubting yourself, your ability to succeed; having self-doubt because of low self-esteem, this is bad. This choice always leads to difficulty.

Which option will you choose?

We have the choice to think about all of the possible doubts and accomplish nothing, or we have the choice to think about all of the possible positives, as much as we can, and accomplish anything. The choice is ours. Given the two options and the two results, which do you prefer?

To doubt is to increase difficulty in all its forms, always.
To have confidence in is to increase success in all its forms, always.

There are many reasons to doubt but all those reasons are unreasonable in comparison to all the reasons to have confidence.

You can get lost in all the reasons to doubt, admittedly. But if you never compare them to all the reasons to have confidence, you will never realize how unreasonable doubts really are.

This ties in like a fractal pattern to yourself. If you’re a doubtful person, you will also doubt in God. If you are a confident person, you will also be confident in God.2

No matter what happens, no matter how difficult the scenario, you always have trust and confidence in God, just as you always believe in yourself to succeed in any test that God puts you through, or any good undertaking that you apply yourself to. The fractal pattern exists and is hugely beneficial to your personal development! Negativity and all its forms are so closely connected to doubt. Please be positive my brothers my sisters in humanity.

Here is where we see the sickness in the hearts of many materialists. Notice their arguments against God always focus on the world of negatives. They try to increase doubt in themselves and others, but all the while there’s an entire Universe of positives in comparison! We can think about all the positives and be confident in God (and ourselves, his creation), or dwell on the few negatives and doubt God (and ourselves, his creation).

Which option will you choose? To doubt or to be confident?

See you next post, God willing 🙂

 

Footnotes:

1. We will repeat the bad patterns of behavior in our lives, our bad habits, unless we change them. How we change starts with acknowledging our wrongs:

“Except for those who repent, reform, and make (that reform ) manifest, those are whom I turn toward (in mercy) for I am the Acceptor of Repentance, the Merciful.” (2:160)

By repenting, we acknowledge what we’ve done as wrong and by completing the rest of instructions in the verse, we reform and make that reform manifest. This is how to change the fractal patterns of bad behavior in our lives. You can do it! God will help!

2. If you aren’t aware of how doubting God affects you negatively in a material sense, then consider how it affects your psychological wellness. By doubting God, you have nothing to depend on but the material, dependent world. You become fearful, paranoid, pessimistic, possessive, and so on. You are moved by fear, lust, and all things belonging to your lower, material nature. However, the choice to be confident in God is another reality. It leads to all kinds of success. And in being confident in God, you must be confident in yourself, the creation of God.

 

Please feel free to share any thoughts.


Be Thankful—Be Happy

A Thankful and Happy Tree
Last post we talked about happiness and how to reach it using this verse as our guide:

“Only in the remembrance of God do the hearts find peace” (13:28).

Let’s add to that a little bit. One of the easiest ways to remember God is to be thankful to him.
Imagine living in a state of thankfulness. Not the superficial kind but the genuine kind. Your mind focuses on all the positive and the Good. No matter the conditions externally, within yourself, in your heart, you are thankful. This would definitely make all of us much happier.

Can we be thankful even during difficult times? Of course we can 🙂

“If you were to count God’s blessings, you would never be able to. God is indeed the Forgiving, Merciful” (16:18)

Even during the worst of times trust in God and know that he encompasses all. Remember all the blessings God put in your life and be confident that he is here with you. He will pull you through, just like he has countless times before.

Patience is like a badge. It’s earned by going through difficulty. You’ll never know how patient you are until you go through something significant. Well, thankfulness is just like that. You’ll never know the sincerity of your gratitude to God until you go through both the best and worst times in your life. It’s a necessary truth. In this world, all truth is made open and laid bare (you can ignore it, but it’s there). The greatest truth for each of us is the state that we cultivate our souls to reach. There is no greater cultivation than being at harmony with God. Since everything except God is a dependent, our true wholeness comes from submitting to the One, Independent.

Thankfulness is the path to God.

“If you are thankful, I will increase you, and if you are ungrateful, then my punishment is indeed strong” (14:7). (Note that ingratitude is not God punishing us but us punishing ourselves.1)

By being thankful we draw nearer to God. It’s like a plant slurping up rays of sunlight. As its thirst is quenched, it grows. It stretches out its branches and leaves growing ever nearer to the sun, and it grows, and it grows, and it grows. But if we were to be ungrateful, we end up punishing ourselves, like a plant shriveling up its leaves and refusing any light.

Thanklessness and hopelessness go hand and hand. If a plant chose to shrivel up its leaves, it’s choosing the path of hopelessness. Sometimes we human beings do this too. We feel depressed and see nothing good. We curl up and don’t want much to do with the sadness of life. But be strong and be patient. Everything you seek has always been with you. Your empowerment comes from God. The Light of God is in your heart and all about it. True happiness is in the Independent Creator.

Remember that the choice to be thankful is the choice to stretch out your branches and open up your leaves, while the choice to be thankless is the choice to curl them up and sulk. Remember God with your heart. Be thankful. Be happy 🙂

See you next post, God willing 🙂

 

Footnotes:

1. The punishment we receive is not God punishing us. It’s really how we are punishing ourselves. Here’s a verse communicating this point:

“Are they waiting for angels to come to them or for the command of your Lord to descend? This is how those who were before them acted. And God did not wrong them but they wronged themselves” (16:33).

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

 


Only with God do Hearts Find Happiness

A Happy Heart

What is happiness but satisfaction?

What is satisfaction but true peace, inward and outward?

We read in the Quran that,

“Only in the remembrance of God do the hearts find peace” (13:28).

True satisfaction, harmony, and peace only come from a heart at one with its Creator.

We may find satisfaction in other things, but it will ultimately be superficial and short-lived. This includes satisfaction with your toy collection, your home, and even people (like relationships with people that are devoid of higher divine truths like honesty and love). Everything other than God is dependent and no amount of those things will ever satisfy the lower, worldly nature.

The material world is not all bad of course. In fact we pray for “the good in this world and the good in the hereafter” (2:201). But only through a heart that’s conscious of its Creator can we enjoy the material world on genuine, deeper levels.

There are three different stages of the soul mentioned in the Quran, and they seem to speak on the different stages of happiness:

the soul commanding towards evil (12:53),
the soul reproaching itself (75:2), and
the soul at peace (89:27).

The “soul that commands towards evil” is the soul intoxicated by the material. It does anything for its “fix” and ignores its higher nature for the lure of the worldly. No matter the momentary satisfaction it gets, with the new day, it’s more hungover from the escapades of the last than satisfied. The lower nature will never find true happiness. It is unsettled, fearful, lustful, discontent, and in disharmony with reality.

The next stage of the soul represents higher awareness. The “soul reproaching itself” is a soul that acknowledges its own wrong actions. We all do wrong, and we all need to improve because no one is perfect. Only God is. To accept that you are doing a wrong is the first, pivotal step in purifying yourself. Unlike the soul that commands towards evil, this stage of the soul is aware of its higher nature and strives to be guided by it. It’s trying to right its wrongs and lift itself up from the numbing dishonesty and appetite of the lower nature. This soul is seeing happiness at the end of the tunnel!1

The epitome of the soul’s development is “the soul at peace.” In Arabic it’s called nafs muthma’inna.

“Oh soul at peace, return to your Lord satisfying and satisfied” (89:27-28).

Although this verse mentions the “soul at peace returning to your Lord” in the context of the next life, we can attain this beautiful sate of harmony with God right here in this life.

How do we return to our Lord, The Truth, The Compassionate, The Merciful, here in this life? How do we harmonize with The Light of the universe that cradles the heartbeat of every creature on this beautiful planet?

The answer is to harmonize with the truth that God inspired in you. It’s there. Be silent. Open your ears.

“And He inspired in [the soul] its wrong and its right” (91:8).

Harmony with God grows from within, from a state of being inside of you, and then affects everything external. Remember that “Only in the remembrance of God do the hearts find peace” (13:28). We can all reach the nafs muthma’inna, the state of true peace and harmony with The Reality.1  To be at harmony with God, you must certainly stand with truth and forsake what’s false. This is not easy. But it’s worth it. Trust in God, be patient, and progress.

Islam means submission and comes from the root of the word for peace. To be Muslim is to submit to the reality of God’s Light. And herein is peace. It is the truest happiness and satisfaction our souls will ever experience. Be at harmony with the Creator, with yourself, and all of creation. Be whom God made you to be.

See you next post, God willing 🙂

 

Footnotes:

1.The two higher states of the soul, the soul that acknowledges its wrongs and the soul at peace, are not completely distinct stages. They cycle back and forth between each other and even merge. This is because as human beings we’re constantly in need of self-improvement. So acknowledging our wrongs—no matter how small or big—and striving for better is an unchanging need in our lives. This process of honesty and submitting to reality is part of remembering God and leads our souls to peace.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.


Always Keep Positive; Keep Focus on God

Always Keep Positive Keep Focus on God

No matter what loss you face, keep positive. By keeping positive, you’re keeping focus on God. Isn’t this the most peaceful state you could ever be in anyway? Compare this state of peace to the angst, anger, and all the unsettling feelings that come by focusing on loss.

When you focus on worldly loss, you’ve actually lost God—at least God-mindfulness anyway.

No matter what someone takes away from you by way of false accusation, crime, etc. always keep positive. If you are attached to what you’ve lost or may lose, you will never find peace. God, The Reality, is peace.

One of the most stunning forms of loss comes from “victim-blaming.” All oppressors and arrogant people do it. And what dishonest behavior it is. Imagine being African American. Their ancestors were literally robbed from their homeland and brought to the Americas, robbed of their freedom, robbed of any kind of compensation for their work, and yet, they are constantly portrayed as thieves by those who control the media. How absurd! It’s unfortunate how this subconscious programming affects us and why it’s done.1

No matter the depth of the loss, or the breadth of its injustice, keep positive, and focus on God. Be aware of the loss, as you would a compass needle pointing to success. Learn the lessons from the loss, but do not focus on it. If you do, it will consume you and strip you of your mindfulness of God. Forget the worldly losses because if you don’t, you, yourself, will be lost.2

Where in the Quran have we been taught this? The Quran is so relevant and gorgeous that we can even explore specific examples of “victim-blaming.” The response towards this type of loss or any other is still the same however.

Prophet Yusuf (the Arabic name for Prophet Joseph) is our beautiful example. So many perpetrated crimes against him, and these same people turned around to blame Prophet Joseph for the very things they did to him. The Prophet’s brothers threw him down a well and abandoned him because of their jealousy and desire for their father’s attention. Many years passed and they met Joseph as an adult, but didn’t recognize him. When his brothers speak about their long-lost younger brother, they call Joseph a thief (12:15)! These are the same people that abducted him and attempted to destroy his life. They stole him from his loving father and threw him into a dark well, all alone.

He experienced victim-blaming in another instance too. Prophet Joseph resisted the seduction of a married woman but when this incident came to light, the seductress accused the Prophet of trying to seduce her (12:23–26)! As a result, he was sent to prison and spent many years there, convicted of crimes others committed against him.

You’d think these were terrible losses. You’d be upset at the moments with his father that he’d lost, at his criminally-minded brothers who stole him as a child but blame him as a thief instead, at the years lost in prison when he could have been enjoying life. You would only think this way if you focus on the loss.

Always keep positive. Keep focus on God.

When you focus on God, watch what happens to our impression of the story. Prophet Joseph was never alone in the well nor in the prison. He always had God with him. His life was not ruined. Through his patience in the well, in servitude, and in prison, he earned honor. After being freed, he was even awarded a position of high ranking in the Egyptian government. (12:54-56). Prophet Joseph always kept focus on God. When the Prophet revealed his identity to his brothers, he didn’t use his power to imprison them or avenge any loss, but he forgave them and called them all to live in Egypt with him as a family (12:92 & 99). Can you believe that? You should 🙂

Through all of the worldly losses he faced, he kept focus on God. He knew that God, The Truth, would avail him.

To let others’ actions born of a lower mind state strip you of your God-mindfulness is the worst and most consequential impact of any perceived wrong against you.

We cannot focus on the loss, for whatever we lose always belonged to God anyway: “to God we belong and to Him we return” (2: 156).

And as we “return to God,” even if this return is not physical as with death but spiritual as with our mindfulness turning back towards him, we realize that we always have everything we ever need.

 

Footnotes:

1. There is an insightful paper titled, “Seeing Black: Race, Crime, and Visual Processing” by researchers at Stanford, Yale, and a few other universities: http://web.stanford.edu/~eberhard/downloads/2004-SeeingBlackRaceCrimeandVisualProcessing.pdf

Their research shows that ordinary people regularly exposed to media programming make a split-second judgement upon Africans as being criminals—subconsciously! Sick ruling powers use these feelings of suspicion, frustration and hatred to divide the citizenry against each other. Why? To divide and conquer. It’s how such rulers choose to remain in power. There is a choice though. To choose to rule through fear and negativity is the path of least resistance. It’s easiest. Real strength and intelligence is exemplified by doing what’s considered impossible. Why not rule through humility and honesty?

2. This paragraph may seem a bit confusing. How can we be aware of the loss, but also forget it? We should ignore the negativity of the losses we experience but embrace their positivity. There is positive in everything because God is constantly teaching us. Learn the lessons we need and grow, but make sure to release everything else. Think of it like food. Keep what is beneficial and release the toxic.

 

Please feel free to share any thoughts.