sometimes people make me sad

A 1400 year old problem?  Nay, probably goes back to the beginning of time.

too much on their plates: what a waste

Although there are no figures available for Dubai, the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi released figures in August 2010 showing that approximately 500 tonnes of food gets thrown away in the capital during Ramadan, prompting Abdul Nasser Al Shamsi, Executive Director of EAD, to say that “the amount of food wasted, especially during Ramadan, is totally unacceptable”.

According to official statistics, one third, or 34 per cent, of the waste generated in the UAE comprises discarded food.

On the Inner Dimensions of Fasting, by Imam al Ghazali:

Not to over-indulge in lawful food at the time of breaking Fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly. There is no receptacle more odious to God, Great and Glorious is He, than a belly stuffed full with lawful food. Of what use is the Fast as a means of conquering God’s enemy and abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra foods? It has even become the custom to stock up for Ramadan with all kinds of foodstuffs, so that more is consumed during that time than in the course of several other months put together. It is well known that the object of Fasting is to experience hunger and to check desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety. If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening, so that its appetite is aroused and its craving intensified, and it is then offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure is increased and its force exaggerated; passions are activated which would have lain dormant under normal conditions.

 

The spirit and secret nature of Fasting is to weaken the forces which are Satan’s means of leading us back to evil. It is therefore essential to cut down one’s intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting. No benefit is derived from the Fast if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.

 

One should let a certain degree of weakness carry over into the night, making it easier to perform the (tahajjud) and to recite the praises (awrad). It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart, and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven. The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God, Exalted is He:’We surely revealed it on the Night of Power.’ [al-Qadr, 97:1]

 

Anyone who puts a bag of food between his heart and his breast becomes blind to this revelation. Nor is keeping the stomach empty sufficient to remove the veil, unless one also empties the mind of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. That is the entire matter, and the starting point of it all is cutting down on food.

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campaigns we’d like to see…

In light of the proposed million beard and niqab campaign in Egypt, I suggest the following:

  • The Allah  is beautiful and loves beauty campaign to clean up the streets (1)
  • The Allah is kind and loves kindness campaign to do random acts of kindness to strangers (2)
  • The treat your neighbor as though s/he were your heir campaign (3)
  • The Speak Good or Remain Silent campaign (4)
  • The shukr campaign to thank people and Allah for everything (5)
  • The do not get angry campaign (6)

(1) [Muslim]

(2)  ‘A’isha reported that the Messenger of Allah , said, “Allah  is kind and loves kindness and gives for gentleness what he does not give for harshness nor for anything else.” [Muslim]

(3) The Prophet  has stated: “Gabriel has repeatedly recommended me to be good to my neighbor to the extent that I thought that he would include him (my neighbour) among my heirs.”  [Ahmad and At-Tirmidh i]

(4) Abu Hurayrah (ra) relates that Allah’s Messenger  said: “Whoever believes in Allah  and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent. [Bukhari, Muslim]

(5) “Whoever does not give thanks to the people does not give thanks to Allah ” [Ahmed]

(6) Abu Hurayra reported that a man said to the Prophet  “Advise me.” He said, “Do not get angry.” He repeated his request several times and the Prophet said, “Do not get angry.” [al-Bukhari]

This post grew out of a discussion I had with AbuS.  He watches Egyptian news talk shows on youtube and on Monday night, he let out a sound of disgust, which in turn prompted me to ask what was the matter.  Can you believe this, he asked.  Is this the most important issue facing Egyptians today?  Will more beards and niqabs solve the mess?  Pshhhhhh!

Being a non confrontational person, I wrote this post suggesting campaigns in addition to the everyone needs a beard before Ramadan push.  When I asked AbuS to contribute a few campaign ideas, he said, haven’t you heard of the Fiqh of Priorities?  At the Battle of the Trench, the Prophet  delayed ‘asr.  ‘Asr was a fard, but not getting killed superseded that.

When facing the potential collapse of a civilization, needs should be prioritized.  Energies should be spent doing what is most urgent.  Will growing a beard or covering one’s face be a step towards polishing one’s heart, or will it merely allow us to ignore the tarnished character that is bringing down a country?

AbuS noted that when he went home to visit last year, that there was a great rise in outward signs of piety.  Lots of sunnah beards and lots more niqab, but the inner sunnahs were still deeply lacking.  A rise in outward piety does not appear to have had an effect on the state of Egypt.  Perhaps it is time to shift the focus inward?

The Prophet  said:

I was only sent to perfect good character

[Muwatta,  Ahmad]

regret

Habib ‘Umar, in his lecture on the Spiritual Imperative, relates this gem:

One of the companions of Imam Malik son of Anas in the enlightened prophetic city of Medina said I kept his company for 20 years.  I spent 18 of those years learning adab and tazkiyah and I spent 2 years learning knowledge.  He said then when I lost Malik, I regretted that I did not spend these entire 20 years learning adab, these courtesies.

I often wonder what the ummah would be  if we were cognizant of how our behavior effects those around us, if good manners towards Allah (swt) and our fellow man were priority #1?   What if we strove to embody the wholeness of the sunnah – the outward actions, and the inward state – and fretted about our adab as we so often fret about x, y and z that we can see visually?

But of course, before I spend all my time pondering the greater state of the world, should I first not turn inward and reflect on my own character and see what needs to be polished within before worrying about the faults of others?

timely

In digging through my archives, I stumbled upon this dua from our beloved that is incredibly timely.  SubhanAllah, can you image the humble character of the Prophet , to ask Allah for His guidance on these issues every time he stepped out of the house?

When leaving the house:

Bismi’Llahi tawakkaltu ‘ala ‘Llah, Allahumma inni a’udhu bika an udilla aw udall, aw uzilla aw uzall, aw azlima aw uzlam, aw aj-hala aw yuj-hala ‘alayy

In the name of Allah, I trust in Allah. O Allah I seek your protection from misleading and being mislead, from causing someone to slip or slipping, from oppressing and oppression, and from promoting folly and being foolish

(Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)

From Reflection of Pearls

perfecting good character

Our most beloved Prophet (saws) said:

I was only sent to perfect good character

[Al Hakim]

a good character primer:

 

*this post was inspired by the most excellent khutah linked above by Khalid Latif coming up on my ipod yesterday.  You can find a lot more by him here and at his blog.