Sunday, December 31, 2006

Eid Mubarak | Blessed be the Eid

Today is one of the largest Muslims festivals, Eid-ul-Adha (or Festival of Sacrifice), here in Singapore. I wish you all a blessed Eid. Eid Mubarak!

Eid-ul-Adha marks the end of Hajj, the sacred pilgrimage to the holy city Mecca. This Muslim holiday Eid-ul-Adha commemorates Prophet Abraham’s unselfish willingness even to sacrificing his own son Ishmael to God.

History | The history behind Eid-ul-Adha follows the story of the faithful Abraham, who was instructed by God in a dream to raise the foundations of Kaaba, a black stone and house for God, the most sacred Muslim shrine in Mecca (Saudi Arabia), which the Muslims face during their prayers (salat). Immediately responding to the Lord’s call, Abraham set off for Mecca along with his wife and son, Ishmael. At that time, Mecca was a desolate and barren desert and Abraham had to face a lot of hardships. However, he supplicated God’s commands uncomplaining.

In a divine dream, he also saw himself sacrificing his son Ishmael for God’s sake. When he told this to Ishmael, the latter immediately asked his father to carry out Lord’s commands without faltering and assured that he was completely ready to give up his life for God. But miraculously enough, when Abraham was about to sacrifice Ishmael, God spared the boy’s life and replaced him with a lamb. And this is what Abraham ultimately sacrificed.

To commemorate this outstanding act of sacrifice (qurbani) by Prophet Abraham, people sacrifice a lamb, goat, ram or any other animal on Eid-ul-Adha and give the meat to friends, neighbors, relatives and the needy. People who are away from the holy pilgrimage, Hajj, also carry out this traditional sacrifice. Hence Eid-ul-Adha is also known as the Feast of Sacrifice or the Day of Sacrifice.
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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hajj experiences and reflections

Brother Dara O. Shayda, who has the website Untired with Loving in which he translates many Sufi texts never before seen in English, and moderates The Sufi Notes yahoo group, has been sending the group his reflections on Hajj (the sacred pilgrimage) and Mecca, where he decided to stay for some time. Here are his words, for those that have ears. (via Darvish's blog)

[1.] A few nights ago I was making Tawaaf (Circumambulating) around the Ka'ba and was wondering how many more times I will circle here and see nothing! I see men jumping around and screaming Arabic words and yet I am sure our manly voices do not reach to Allah.

I was dragging my feet and reached the beginning of the circle, where the Black Stone is located. We usually raise our hands and kiss our palms since we cannot reach the Black Stone directly, due to the large crowd present in the Haram. Just before I could raise my hand to wave at the Black Stone, I saw a svelte Indian girl stop and place her feet together, and with some unbelievable strength stretch her arms towards the Black Stone, and I cannot explain to you what I felt, but it was an assurance in my heart that she reached the other world with ease and touched something out of the realm of this life. I was assured that she has made it to the other universe and Paradise is for her, though I know her not and never saw her again.

There are those who love Allah much, and they are chosen by Allah and their love affairs defies our conventional understanding of the relationship. The slave can yell as much as he likes, in the end it is the call of the Master that counts.

[2.] In front of the Ka'ba I saw a little girl hopping around like a puppy, and though she was very pretty, I could not stand her yelping and drooling. But after an hour or more of watching her dogging after the other kids, I realized that she was autistic, and also badly handicapped. She was not pretending to be a puppy! That was the only means of locomotion and exchange for her!

I asked my self why was she there? And the response came immediately: She is the honored guest of Ar-Rahman (the Most Merciful) and that is who and how and where and when the Regal Highness wishes to see Hu's/His loved ones!

[3.] One night I saw a super rich prince circling the Ka'ba with his armed guards, another night I saw an Iranian woman suffering from osteoporosis, refusing the wheelchair, circling the Ka'ba in great pain. I stood there, sat there, slept there, read there and wrote there, and all the while I understood only one thing: The Sultan of all hearts chooses who to remember Hu and who to serve Hu and who to disobey Hu and who to forget Hu and who to visit Hu and who to move away from Hu!

[4.] A few nights ago a blind Iranian was sitting next to me, without knowing that I spoke Farsi, and asked me: “Am I in front of Ka'ba?” I replied, “You are.” Then he asked me to recite some Dhikr I told him my voice is too ugly and he replied: “Ok I read for you…” He chanted some words from the Qur'an and then rubbed his bony hands on his long-dead sunken eyes, then an Iranian woman came with a wheelchair and took him away.

[5.] Last night I wore my Italian suit with a dashing red tie, circled the Ka'ba amongst the Iranian women in white chadurs, graceful white robbed Malayan ladies in prostration, Arab women crying for their dead, Turkish men running with zeal, Africans power walking in colorful robes, Algerians praising Allah in rows, Ahmad Bukhari crying for his father and at the end of the seventh circle what did I see: Nothing belongs to me, not even my own Self and we are all guests here, the guests of Ar-Rahman and it really matters not what we wear or what we claim or what we do, what matters is that The Nur (Light) of our hearts; That Supreme Divine Beauty wants us; wants me in a suit; wants the Iranians in Chadurs; wants the little girl autistic; wants the prince rich; And that is all that matters i.e. what Hu wants! And right here I stopped and could not walk anymore.

Credit: Untired with Loving by Dara O. Shayda / and Darvish Blog
Related Posts: Celebration of Oneness of God/ History of Hajj Pin It Now!

Prayer of Abraham and the Sacred Pilgrimage - Hajj

In the name of Loving God

And when Abraham said: My Lord! make this city
[^1] secure, and save me and my sons from worshipping idols: My Lord! they have led many men astray; so whoever follow me, he is of me; and whoever disobey me, Thou surely art Forgiving, Merciful:

O our Lord! I have settled a part of my offspring in a valley unproductive
of fruit [^2] near Thy Sacred House [^3], our Lord! that they may keep up prayer;

therefore make the hearts of some people yearn towards them
[^4] and provide them with fruits, haply they may be grateful: O our Lord! Thou knowest what we hide and what we manifest, and nothing in the earth nor any thing in heaven is hidden from God;

Praise be to God Who has given me in old age Ishamel and Isaac; surely my Lord is the hearer of prayer: My Lord! make me keep up prayer and from my offspring too, O our Lord, and accept my prayer. O our Lord! grant protection to me and my parents and the believers on the day when the reckoning shall come to pass. [The Quran: 14:35-41]

^ Notes
[1] This is the city of Mecca (also writen Makkah), located now in Saudi Arabia.

[2] The land as that day and still today is barren, desert area. The offsprings mentioned are the bloodline of Abrahama from his son Ishmael and his discendants. Both according to Arab tradition and Bible, Ishmael's descendants were settled in Arabia.

[3] This sacred house is the house that Abraham erected with his son for the purpose of worshiping of God, the One. Abraham in all three monotheistic religion, Judaism, Christianity and Islam is given the credit as the father of monotheism. And the beginning of this journey started with the sacred house, called Kaba. As an ancient architecture it was very simple and made like a cube. Hence the name Kaba, which simply means 'cube'. Literally also means, a high place with respect and prestige.

[4] Father Abraham's prayers were heard and accepted by God indeed. From hundreds of years, millions of peoples' heart are made to yearn towards the house, Kaba where people go for sacred pilgrimage. At this moment about 3 million people are gathering there to answer the call of the their heart's yearning & longing to visit the sacred house. Pin It Now!

Friday, December 29, 2006

God is not a Christian

God is not a Christian.
understand this, atleast
for Christ's sake.

God is not a Jew.
all are His children,
not only a few.

God is not a Muslim.
just incase you're
boasting with your faith.

God is not a Hindu.
beyond the colored idols
transcend His attributes.

God never created a religion,
but the human race.

come! truth may
we all embrace.

Sadiq | Singapore. 28 Dec, 2006

Inspiration and Dedication: in an tv advert of Al Jazeera Tv channel, there is a clip of Archbishop Desmond Tutu (nobel peace prize winner 1984) where he said this line, 'God is not a Christian'. Being an Anglican Archbishop and uttering this beautiful saying 'God is not a Christian' inspired me, and hence this unworhty poem was born.

I dedicate this poem to Respected Desmond Mpilo Tutu; this beautiful South African visionary, activist who stood up against the unjust apartheid system, for the right of people and who can speak the truth from his own realization. His life and work are an inspiration of peace through Desmond Tutu Peace foundation.
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Hajj | from the eye of the media

The sacred pilgrimage - Hajj is increasingly and interestingly coming under spotlight of international medias. Leading news media such as CNN, BBC, Fox News, CNBC all are dedicating significant amount of their time, web and frames to this event.

Many of the medias web are hosting the video reports and additional multimedia presentation, features about Hajj. Here are some of the compilations.

[ ] Hajj : the essential journey
Features a number of video reports on Hajj, history, states of the pilgrimage etc. main page here.
> In the field blog from production team is blogging right from the Hajj scene. read here.
> Also check On the Scene: Covering the Hajj.

[ ] Report: Hajj approaches spiritual climax
> BBC audio and video on Hajj.

[ CNBC ] Report: 3 million Muslims begin annual Hajj in Mecca

[ Fox News ] Images of Hajj

[ Yahoo News ] Audio and video coverage on Hajj

[ Arab News ] Every Pilgrim has a story to tell

All news about Hajj from web, via google news. Pin It Now!

On Faith | a Conversation on Religion

Arranged by the Washington Post and Newsweek, On Faith is a conversation on religion by Jon Meacham and Sally Quinn.

About On Faith | Religion is the most pervasive yet least understood topic in global life. From the caves of the Afghan-Pakistan border to the cul-de-sacs of the American Sunbelt, faith shapes and suffuses the way billions of people-Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and nonbelievers-think and act, vote and fight, love and, tragically, hate. It is the most ancient of forces. Even the most ferocious atheists find themselves doing intellectual battle on a field defined by forces of the faithful.

And so, in a time of extremism - for extremism is to the 21st century what totalitarianism was to the 20th - how can people engage in a conversation about faith and its implications in a way that sheds light rather than generates heat?

At The Washington Post and Newsweek, we believe the first step is conversation - intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful conversation - among specialists and generalists who devote a good part of their lives to understanding and delineating religion's influence on the life of the world. The point of our new online religion feature is to provide a forum for such sane and spirited talk, drawing on a remarkable panel of distinguished figures from the academy, the faith traditions, and journalism. We encourage readers to join the conversation by commenting on what our panelists have to say, offering their own opinions and suggesting topics for future discussions.

From the nature of evil to religious reformation, from the morality of fetal stem-cell research to the history of scripture, from how to raise kids in multi-faith households to the place of gays in traditional churches - of the asking of questions, to paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there shall be no end. We think that the online world, with its limitless space, offers us a unique opportunity to carry on a fruitful, intriguing, and above all constructive conversation about the things that matter most.

:: Explore the site, it has much substance to broaden your horizon.

:: About Jon Meacham & Sally Quinn | About the Panelists from all religious background | Washingtonpost's site on Religion

Engaging discussions | There are discussions going on various topics such as: Was Jesus really son of God?, Can there be common ground?, How to describe God to children?, Atheism, interfaith issues and much more. You are all welcome to participate there. Learn. Help other to Learn. Engage. Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Meditative Quranic Verse 8: unto God all affairs are returned

YaAAlamu ma bayna aydeehim wama khalfahum wa-ila Allahi turjaAAu al-omooru

He knows what is before them and what is behind them and unto God all affairs are returned.
(The Quran: 22:76)

:: Previous post in this series [Life of this world and hereafter] with back links
:: Introduction to this series Pin It Now!

Hajj | Celebration of Oneness of God

The largest collective celebration and singing of 'the Oneness of God' - Hajj, the sacred pilgrimage is here. It begins early Thursday (28 Dec, 2006), with a day of prayer and contemplation. Friday at dawn, pilgrims arrive at Mount Arafat for prayer and to seek forgiveness at the site where the Prophet Muhammad delivered his last sermon. Saturday, the pilgrims move en masse to the arid valley of Mina, these places are connected with the Biblical history of Prophet Abraham and his family.

The Hajj is one of Islam's five essential pillars. It has been taking place in current form, annually without a break for over 1,400 years. This pilgrimage is the ultimate act of worship to God. Today as before, every adult Muslim who is physically and financially able to do so is obligated to make this journey once in his or her lifetime.

But performing the Hajj is more than answering a call to duty. Mecca, where the Ka'bah (kaba) or symbolic House of God is located- marks the direction in which all Muslims pray. It is also the birthplace of The Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace), who defined Islam, and is strongly associated with the lives of Hagar, Abraham, and Ishmael, figures known to every Jews, Christian and Muslim, alike. For all these reasons, when the yearly time comes to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, Muslims yearn to go. Where the Hajj is concerned, duty and desire beautifully converge.

More than 3 million people are expected to gather in Mecca for the sacred pilgrimage this year. People from all corner of the globe is coming to converge. It is the single most and largest gathering in one place on the face of earth. The coming together of all colors, all race, all language and all culture of human race in one place to sing and celebrate the Oneness of God is the most beautiful symbol of the Hajj.

More readings on Hajj:
:: Hajj: The Journey of a Lifetime [from Beliefnet]
Follow one Muslim on his Hajj pilgrimage as he visits many of Islam's holy sites and reflects upon what they mean to him. By Hesham Hassaballa

:: Muslim Pilgrims gather for Hajj [from BBC News]

:: Rituals of Hajj [Ministry of Hajj, Saudi Arabia]

:: The Hajj - Your Emails [from CNN] :: History of Hajj

:: You may watch the Hajj live from Saudi Television. Click here (real player required) [via Saudi Embassy]

:: Hajj Primer : The Beliefnet guide to Hajj Pin It Now!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Pilgrim's Tears | a Poem by Guest Blogger Nizami Rose

pilgrim's tears

in rumi's turbe
i wept many hours
comforting hands
gently touched me

in shems's turbe
stillness endless
alone i fainted
walking to the door

at hajji bektashi
through the light
burned into a stone

mary's chapel
scented soft light
sat in silence
tears of joy

all these tears
a bit embarrassing
all these tears
a beacon to home

- nizami

:: This beautiful poem is by Nizami Rose who kindly gave me permission to publish it. My regards and gratefulness to the poet. You are also welcome to contribute as guest blogger. pls read here for details.
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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Simple rule of living | saying of Prophet Muhammad

In our ever increasing chaotic (also termed as modern) world, peace of heart is a rare thing. It has become such rare that many of us don't even know if there is such a thing. We are constantly bombarded with so many mundane things that are enough to keep up preoccupied from the moment we wake up till we go to sleep, worried again for the next day - and this cycle goes on.

There is a sure struggle of setting preferences in our daily activities, in our living. And perhaps as a guide we can recall one of the sayings of the Last Messenger, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace; when he mentioned the most simple rule of living for peace of our heart. He says the following:

When a thing disturbs (the peace of) your heart, give it up. - Prophet Muhammad, the Final Messenger of God (570-632 CE)

The saying might sound very simple, devoid of any complex philosophical doctrine; yet again this zen like saying expresses the essence that can lead to the inner peace of the heart. It is known from ancient ages that our heart has the intelligence to guide us. Thus when the heart is disturbed (and vice versa when it feels joy), that is a sure enough signal for us to take note and act accordingly.

Read again the saying and meditate upon it. Repeat it inside of you to see the effect.

:: More enlightening sayings of the Prophet
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Monday, December 25, 2006

Peace on the day Jesus was born | Merry Christmas

Despite the historical fact that 25th December was not the birthday of Jesus Christ, upon him be peace, never the less, i would like to sing the praise of God on this occassion with the whole world, Alleluia, Alhamdu-lillah, all Praise be to God that Jesus was born among us.

According to Quran, the day Jesus was born, the day he died and the day he will be coming again, are all days of peace. It is quoted in Quran from the holy lips of Jesus Christ: "Peace on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)"! (The Quran 019.033)

So peace be upon you all: the Peace that Christ brought to this world. Let me remind you the most beautiful saying of Christ: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you." (John 14:27).

This peace is the extra-ordinary inner peace that creates bliss of heaven inside our heart. may we all be blessed with the peace on this occasion. amen and Merry Christmas!

:: Reference: Jesus in Quran Pin It Now!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas celebration: historical facts and lessons

"Say O People of the Book! Exceed not in your religion the bounds of (what is proper), trespassing beyond the truth. Nor follow the vein desires of people who went wrong in times gone by, - who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the right Way." [The Quran, 5:77]

Khalid Beig in his article titled, Christmas Lessons : Prophet's Birthday writes: Both Muslims and serious Christians can learn a lot from Christmas.

No one disputes that the event and all its symbols came from pagan religions; it has nothing to do with the birth or teachings of Jesus Christ. For one thing, no one knows with certainty the date of birth of Jesus Christ. "In fact, dates in almost every month in the year were suggested by reputable scholars at one time or another," notes The American Book of Days. For another, the celebration of birthdays is itself a pagan idea, never promoted by any Prophet or Book of God, including the Bible. Early Church leaders opposed it strongly. As late as 245 CE African Church father and philosopher Origen wrote that it was sinful even to contemplate observing Jesus's birthday as though he were a King Pharaoh." [The American Book of Days].

But the pagan world did have prayers and celebrations during the winter season. Those who worshipped the sun god because of its apparent power, used to become concerned about the fate of their god, in a world of many gods, as days became shorter and air very cold. It looked like the sun was being defeated by the god of snow that brought death and misery with it. "... in Rome, the sun in its winter solstice was at its weakest on December 25 and had to be born anew with the help of bonfires, lights, processions and prayer." [Reader's Digest Book of Christmas]. The Roman pagan celebration was called Saturnalia. The Persians also had similar celebrations for Mithras, their sun god.

Also note that: The New Testament gives no date or year for Jesus’ birth. The earliest gospel – St. Mark’s, written about 65 CE – begins with the baptism of an adult Jesus. This suggests that the earliest Christians lacked interest in or knowledge of Jesus’ birthdate.

On the historical fact about how Saturnalia became Christmas: Its seems that no one really ever gives a thought to the idea of the date December twenty-fifth as the day of Christmas. If you look at our evidence as to Christ’s birth you will read from the bible, " And there where in the same country shepherds abiding in a field, keeping watch over their flock by night," In the dead of winter seems most unlikely.

That the date actually goes back to Rome with a festival called Saturnalia. It was a time of revelry, celebration, eating and drinking. It was at once a solstice observance and a harvest festival. On the Julian calendar it was proclaimed in 46 c.e., that the Saturnalia would fall on December twenty- fifth.

The early Christians found a birthday celebration of a religious figure strange or blasphemous. Holidays where declared for the birthday of Ceasars and for the gods. Gift giving at a birthday is a wholly pagan concept and the early church banned it. Slowly the idea of giving alms to the poor and to the church for Christ birth is mentioned in the tenth century. details here.

Was Christ Born on December 25th?

Luke 2:8 explains that when Christ was born, “there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Note that they were “abiding” in the field. This never happened in December. Both Ezra 10:9-13 and the Song of Solomon 2:11 show that winter was the rainy season and shepherds could not stay on cold, open fields at night.

Christ was born (most probably) in the fall of the year. Notice the Adam Clarke Commentary, volume 5, page 370, New York edition: “It was custom among Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts about the Passover [early spring], and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain.” The first rains began in early-to-mid fall. Continuing with this same quote: “During the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As…the first rain began early in the month of March-esvan, which answers to part of our October and November [begins sometime in October], we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole summer. And as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night."

Numerous encyclopedias plainly state that Christ was not born on December 25th! The Catholic Encyclopedia directly confirms this. In all likelihood, Christ was born in the fall! A lengthy technical explanation would prove this point. (more details with credit)

Further readings & references:
+ Jesus Nativity Legends
+ Gospel Fictions
+ True origins of Christmas (reommended reading | a very well compiled article)
+ How Saturnalia became Christmas
+ The Real Story of Christmas
+ The origin of Christmas
+ A google video documentary on the origin of Christmas

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Paying respect to Mother Mary, upon her be peace

One of the most commonly held misconceptions among Christians, be they western or eastern is that Muslims don't believe in Jesus Christ and Mother Mary. Even i have experienced church leaders going out and telling at the sunday sermon these wrong stuff either from their ignorance or just to divide the brotherhood and sisterhood of human race, the family of God. A little exploration of Muslim faith will show that Muslims not only believe in Jesus Christ, but also believe him as the promised Messiah and also await for his second coming. Muslim faith is incomplete without the faith in the mighty messenger Jesus Christ. At the same time Muslims hold deep respect for the mother of Jesus Christ, Mary. I quote here from an article titled: MARYAM, the mother of Jesus: the best of women - in order to clear some of the commonly held misconceptions.

You may be surprised to learn that Muslims love and honor Mary, the mother of Jesus (peace be upon them both). In fact, when naming the best woman to ever live, the Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) named Mary, known as Maryam in Arabic, as the best woman to ever live!

In the Quran, there is without a doubt no woman that is given more attention than Maryam. She is mentioned 34 times in the Quran and there is an entire chapter dedicated to her and her history, Chapter 19 entitled Maryam. It can be seen that Maryam is highly honoured in Islam by that fact that of the 114 chapters in the Quran, Maryam is among the eight few who have a chapter named after them.

Maryam is also the only woman to be specifically named in the Quran. As a matter of fact, Maryam is mentioned more times in the Quran than in the entire New Testament, and there is more information about her life contained in the Quran than in the New Testament.

Maryam is so highly respected in Islam that she has been described as possessing the perfection of human spiritual attainment, and is revered by Muslims for her spirituality and piety. God says of Maryam in the Quran: “Right graciously did her Lord accept her, He made her grow in purity and in beauty” (Quran 3: 37). Because of her purity and complete devotion to God, Maryam is a role model to Muslim women all around the world, who look to her as the example of what an ideal Muslim woman should aspire to be. (no wonder Muslim women cover their head just as mother Mary did)

However, not only is Maryam a role model to women, but she is also an example to men. Maryam is described as a siddiqa, meaning the Most Truthful, which is the category placed immediately after the rank of the prophets. Both women and men look to Maryam for her sense of spirituality, as she is given the honour of being described in the Quran as one of the qanitin (Quran 66:12), a masculine plural form that indicates one obedient to God. This emphasises the fact that Maryam’s virtue is not confined by gender, and she is an example for all who believe, male and female. Maryam’s spirituality is one of her outstanding characteristics that all Muslims strive to emulate.

Another fact worth noting is that according to some scholars, Maryam in Hebrew means ‘the woman worth two men’. Once again, this emphasises that Maryam is an example to all people, whether male or female, as Maryam was able to have both child and provision and she needed no man for that. Maryam is certainly one of the best examples of a successful Muslim woman, and she is still as relevant to society today as she was in her own time.

There is no faith or holy book that honours Maryam and holds her in such high esteem as does Islam in the Quran. The Quran relates the pure character and high status of Maryam from her own birth till the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus. As an example to all humankind, Maryam was preferred over all women to be the mother of Jesus. This is seen in the Quran when the angels said to Maryam, “O Maryam! Verily, God has chosen you, purified you, and chosen you above the women of the worlds” (Quran 3:42). So it must be understood that Maryam holds one of the most honoured positions in the hearts of Muslims of all times and places.

Muslims aim to completely submit themselves to the will of God, and Maryam is the prime example of this. She showed complete submission to God even when it meant that her own family would accuse her of being unchaste when they discovered she was pregnant (Quran 19:16-21). This demonstrates Maryam’s complete devotion to God, and highlights to us her intense spirituality and piety. Maryam was able to completely submit herself to God, showing that she was a true “Muslim”, as the word “Muslim” means one who submits (to Divine Will). And in the religious sense, Islam actually means peace and purity achieved by submitting to the will of God and obeying Divine law. All these factors are demonstrated in the life of Maryam, a true example of a successful woman. ... read the full article here.

:: Mother Mary in Quran: Also here is an article that compile the verses of Quran which mentions about Mary and her life.
:: Wikipedia article: Islamic view on Virgin Mary
:: The Quranic chapter titled in the honored name of Mary.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Santa Science

Whether modern day christmas has lost its central theme, the teachings of Jesus Christ, upon him be peace, or whether it is completely commercialized and engrossed in materialism - is a whole different issue. Never-the-less an important one. Whether our children are more knowledgable about a myth like Santa Claus than the personality of Jesus Christ is what you may ask yourself. Has christmas lost its Christ is a old but important question, although I am not going to debate the issue here. May be in another post.

I just came across a science article (warning its funny as well) in North Carolina State Univ.'s website. It has little to do with religion, but more to do with scientific possiblities of many different aspect like time, relativity. Read here the article titled: Santa Science.

:: Keep an eye on the blog. Coming soon is the origin of Christmas, whether Jesus really was born on the 25th December and the origin of today's Christmas celebration - are the topics i wish to post soon, God willing.
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Reading resources | worth clicks

:: Kashf Al-Mahjub (Unveiling of the Enshrouded) by Imam Ali Al-Hujwiri.
Excerpts and quotations from this beautiful book can be found here.

:: Assessing English Translations of the Qur'an by Khaleel Mohammed
Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2005

:: Planes of existence of Ibn Arabi's Cosmology from

:: Our Master Jalaluddin Rumi: A chapter from idries Shah's Book "The Sufis".

:: Sacred Texts website, on which you can read the Qur'an, hadiths, and the works of many Sufi master, including the entire Masnavi of Rumi, and the sacred texts of many other religions.

:: Muslim Heritage: "If there is much misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there is also much ignorance about the debt our own culture and civilisation owe to the Islamic world. It is a failure, which stems, I think, from the straight-jacket of history, which we have inherited. The medieval Islamic world, from central Asia to the shores of the Atlantic, was a world where scholars and men of learning flourished. But because we have tended to see Islam as the enemy of the West, as an alien culture, society, and system of belief, we have tended to ignore or erase its great relevance to our own history." - Prince Charles, Heir to the British Monarchy at Oxford University.

:: Channel 4's focus on Faith and Belief: Can you believe it? Pin It Now!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

a Prayer on Inspiration, Work and becoming an Instrument

My Lord give me the strength to work for & towards the very inspirations that you send to the heart, so that i be an instrument for Thy Will. Amen

Note: On the theme of "servant becoming the instrument of God", there is a lovely saying of Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) where he mentions that God says:

Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him (her).

When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.

I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him. (:: mentioned in 40 Hadith Qudsi)

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awaits the immortal bliss

maybe Monet would like this
Originally uploaded by Rumple.
why you fear dear friend,
why you worry?!

the immortal bliss is waiting
with arms wide open.
to embrace you.
yes, you!
you are the children
of immortal bliss.

now close your eyes
and whisper to your heart,
give it peace by affirming that
awaits the immortal bliss,

its waiting from the time before time.
and it will be waiting
after your ultimate awakening.

what is this life my friend,
but a dream!?
you will wake up again
after you meet your death
when vanishes this reality of vain.

(c) Sadiq M. Alam | 18 Dec, 2006 | Singapore
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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Jesus, the Murshid

Jesus was a messenger, a prophet, a saint and a friend of God. As he guided disciples and did so with the authority given to him by God he as also a murshid.

Both westerners as well as easterners can approach the Divine Knowledge (Gnosis) by means of Jesus. Some Sufis (Muslim Mystics) are called Isawi. Isa is the Arabic (and Aramaic) name of Jesus, so Isawi means that those Sufis with a spiritual connection with Jesus. Others are e.g. Musawi, implying a link with Moses, etc.. In the days after Muhammad (upon him be peace) all these connections go by means of him.

Shaykh Ibn al-'Arabi claims that his conversion (tawba) took place between the hand of Jesus, his first master. He said about Jesus: "He has prayed for me in order that I might persist in the religion... and has called me his beloved. He ordered me to practise zuhd (renunciation) and tajrid (the stripping away of all that is unnecessary)".

So Jesus was his first murshid, but of course he was not physically present to him. When he was accepted into Sufism by his first murshid whom he met in the flesh in Spain, this murshid was an Isawi Sufi.

And We made the son of Mary (Isa) and his mother as a Sign ... The Quran 023.050

And remember when Isa, the son of Mary, said: "O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of God sent to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me (the Torah), and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad (the praised one)." The Quran 061.006

Note: Murhid is an Arabic/Sufi term which is used to call the teacher or spiritual guide or master. It is equivalent to Rabbi (meaning teacher, 'great one' in literal meaning) in Jewish tradition. Many of the disciple and companions of Jesus Christ used to call him Rabbi or Rabboni (the great master).

:: Relevant Post: Jesus, the Sufi Master
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Most Inspiring Person of 2006

The Amish of Nickel Mines, Pa. - a pacifist religious community in rural Lancaster County who practice a simple farming life without modern conveniences much the same as their 17th century Swiss-German forbears—suffered a shocking intrusion into their world when a local milkman, Charles Roberts, invaded a one-room schoolhouse, shooting 10 young girls, leaving five of them dead. During the ordeal, one of the girls, 13-year-old Marian Fisher, offered to be killed first in hopes that the others would be spared.

A Beliefnet member wrote of this event: “I cannot ignore this unbelievable act of love by a girl this young. In my mind, this little girl did no more or no less than Jesus did for us on the cross.” Within hours of the shooting, the families of the children not only expressed their forgiveness of the killer but reached out to his family, giving food and raising money for his wife and children.

In a Beliefnet video interview, Herman Bontrager, a spokesman for the Amish of Nickel Mines, explained, “The Amish believe that we must forgive because we ourselves need to be forgiven. [They're] trying to live the way Jesus lived. He turned the other cheek, he told us to love everybody, to love our enemies." A Beliefnet member noted, “The message of forgiveness, rather than vengeance, goes to the heart of how we should behave toward each other. This is an extreme example of how true faith and true forgiveness can be awe-inspiring. If the Amish can forgive the man who killed their children, how much more should the rest of us be able to forgive the petty hurts and perceived insults we receive each day?”

For the incredible example of living faith on the part of an entire community that lost its children, the majority of Beliefnet users cast their votes for the Amish. And the editors of Beliefnet follow their lead by naming the Amish of Nickel Mines, Pa. the Most Inspiring People of 2006. (read details)

Credit: Most Inspiring of 2006: Why the Amish Won
With an act of radical forgiveness, a grieving community showed the world an alternative response to violence.

:: Know about the other extra-ordinary nominess of 2006's Most Inspiring Person

:: Survivors say Amish girl asked to be shot first - 13-year-old apparently hoped younger schoolgirls would be let go

:: Previous related post: Amish Country : Thoughts of Darvish

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sufis : The people of the Path | Osho

"I am not really talking on Sufism, I will be talking Sufism. If you are ready, if you are ready to go into this adventure, then you will attain to a taste of it. It is something that will start happening in your heart. It is something like a bud opening. You will start feeling a certain sensation in the heart - as if something is becoming alert, awake there; as if the heart has been asleep for long and now it is the first glimmer of the morning - and there you will have the taste." - Osho

Kranti Preman writes in his introduction of the Book, Sufis - The People of the Path: The book you are holding in your hands is the living, beating heart of the mystic, Osho. His words are the very life-blood of existence. Are you ready to receive the ultimate transfusion?

In this dangerous spiritual surgery, you will need to open yourself - up and risk your life. No one is going to perform miracles for you. It is Osho's great gift to us: his insistence on meditation as the most direct tool for transformation. Each of us must go solo into the vast, unfamiliar territory of our inner being. Witnessing is the scalpel that cuts away all that is not you. Only then you can melt into existence.

The path of the Sufi is through the heart. To help clear the way for your meditation, Osho suggests more drastic measures that cut directly to the essence of Sufism. "The whole function of the master is to behead his disciples - that's what I go on doing here. You have nothing to lose but your head. And when I say come out of your sleep, I mean come out of your dead head. Come into the heart. Let the heart pulsate, let the heart sing, let the heart dance."

Come celebrate. Come join the Sufis if you like. They are the People of the Path. Don't worry, though one need not be a Sufi to be a Sufi. It's not a serious thing. The birds are Sufis when they wake up the sun with their early morning gossip. The crickets are Sufis when they present their chorus to the night. And if you are truly silent, listening in your original innocence, you are a Sufi. All it takes is tuning into your natural sensitivity. "God is broadcasting Himself all over and the reception happens in the heart, never in the head." But how many of us are living dancingly and singingly like the Sufi mystics?

This new book - a beautifully re-edit and new designed book from a long time out of print classic by Osho, is a journey full with beautiful moments.

:: continue reading more about the book here. Pin It Now!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christian Zen | The Essential Teachings of Jesus Christ

The gospel of Thomas comprises a collection of statement by Jesus to his half-brother, Thomas. There is a deep wisdom inherent in them, which gets lost at the level of scholarship. As implied by its subtitle, "The Secret Sayings of Jesus", the work repsresent an esoteric teaching, meant only for a certain elite. ... Properly understood, however- that is, with the proper magical key, we find in Jesus' Sayings a most beautiful presentation of the timeless teaching of Advaita (non-duality), the esoteric expression of the inner meaning of all the great religions.

No simple English word exists that approximates its meaning (literally not-two). (from the book, Christian Zen: The Essential Teachings of Jesus Christ by Robert Powell)

i was just thinking, the world TAWHID (also writen as Tauheed, Tawheed) used in Islamic terminology, the Absolute Oneness of God's Being is perhaps the fittest term for Advaita (not-two). This is also confirmed in the sacred formula of testament, La sharika lahu, there is no second to You, You have no partner, there is no-two but You.

The books contains the beautiful sayings of Jesus Christ and with short enlightening explanations. I quote two of such sayings.

1. Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'From where did you come?', say to them, 'We came from the Light, where the Light came into being of its own accord and established itself and became revealed in its image'. If they ask 'Who are you?', you answer: 'We are his children and are the elect of the Living Father'".

:: Ultimate Reality is often symbolized by the term "Light", from which the entire world springs. (remember the light verse from Quran? where it is said, Allahu nooru alssamawati waal-ardi, meaning 'Allah is the Light of the heaven and earth' 24:35)

Objects and images have a source or underlying matrix, but the light is Self-created ("came into being of its own accord"), or rather it is the Self and in Jesus' terminology is therefore equal to the "Living Father". (noteworthy here is the powerful Quranic verse, Lam yalid walam yooladu, meaning 'He begets not, nor is He begotten' 112:3, reflecting the saying of Jesus that the Light came into being of its own accord)

2. His disciples said to him: "Tewnty four prophets have spoken in Israel, and they all spoke of you." He said to them, "You have disregarded the living one who stands right before you and have spoken about the dead."

:: Jesus dismisses all this gossipy talk as unproductive, abstract and therefore dead knowledge. What has value is not hearsay but the presence of a living teacher who alone can effect direct transmission of the teaching and bring one nearer to realization.

Credit: You may read from limited preview from Google Book. here is the link.
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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Spiritual Blogs | Best picks by Beliefnet

Beliefnet's picks for the coolest, most interesting faith-based weblogs. Not every spiritual blog is worth reading, of course. Many blogs aren't updated frequently; others are updated far too often with everyday minutiae. Some blogs function as the daily organs of established media outlets or institutes. Beliefnet has chosen to highlight some of the best spiritual blogs on the web. These blogs are all worth checking in with daily or weekly.

:: General Religion Blogs
The Revealer
The Revealer, run out of New York University's Center for Religion and Media, describes itself as a "daily review of religion and the press." Though a big part of its mission is to review how religion is portrayed in the media, it's a great place to start for the latest--and often obscure-religion news, as well as excellent links to a wide range of religion news resources and other blogs.

Get Religion
This joint blog between conservative-leaning religion reporters Terry Mattingly and Douglas LeBlanc offers smart analysis of major religion stories and how they're reported in the mainstream press.

A Hadeeth Blog
Putting on the sacred tradition of Prophet Muhammad.

Also check out:
Holy Weblog
This longtime Beliefnet favorite is currently down for maintenance, but well worth a look when it's back online.

:: Christian Blogs
Relapsed Catholic
There are dozens of well-written and frequently updated Catholic blogs, but Relapsed Catholic seems to be a must-read for the Catholic community. It bills itself as one of the oldest and most popular blogs around. The blogger, Canadian journalist Kathy Shaidle, offers a conservative take on Catholicism, politics, and other religions (and often links to Beliefnet's Loose Canon).

Evangelical Outpost
This is a conservative blog from an "evangelical worldview." The posts are intelligent and cover a wide variety of topics, from science to the media to discussing "What's an Evangelical?" Evangelical Outpost includes a frequent series called "Know Your Evangelicals," a brief bio of important people in the evangelical community, like Chuck Colson, T.D. Jakes, and Jim Wallis.

The Village Gate (Formerly The Right Christians)
A progressive Christian blog, whose goal is to bring more attention to the role of liberal Christians in the public arena. The Village Gate is managed by a Lutheran pastor but functions as a gathering place for other progressives and relevant blogs.

ChristDot describes itself as "News for Jesus Freaks." It offers short takes on Christian news and, unlike many Christian blogs, doesn't claim a political affiliation.

:: Also check out:
Blogs4God | A compilation of Christian weblogs
Amy Welborn's Open Book | Another popular Catholic blog
Orson's Telescope | A Mormon blog, with links to many others
Dylan's lectionary blog

:: Jewish Blogs
The Velveteen Rabbi
Among the many personal Jewish blogs on the web, this is one of the best. The blog entries are beautiful musings on prayer, holidays, blessings, and Jewish spirituality. The writer, Rachel Barenblat, who is not actually a rabbi, also offers a Beliefnet-like mix of posts about other religions and traditions.

The Jewsweek Blog
The "Yada yada yada blog," the weblog of the weekly online magazine Jewsweek, is a fun read for the latest celebrity kabbalah news, unusual Jewish links, and other Jewish-related gossip.

Kosher Blog
This blog is a frequent update of news in the kosher world--the writer taste-tests recipes and new products, and provides certification information. Indispensable for anyone who takes keeping kosher--and eating gourmet food--seriously.

Also check out:
Weblog about ancient Judaism (yet updated surprisingly often)
A daily roundup of Jewish literature and culture.

:: Muslim Blogs
Dervish Du'a
This Australian blogger calls herself a "modern dervish," someone in need of God's mercy. Her blog is often very personal but also includes good Muslim updates and opinions, as well as news about interfaith efforts between Muslims and Jews. The Dervish also links to a host of other religious blogs, not just her fellow Muslims, with symbols identifying which religion each is affiliated with.

Frequent updates and commentary on Muslim news, as well as a comprehensive list of other Muslim blogs.

Islamic Parenting
This unique blog by a Muslim mother recounts her struggles as a parent and a Muslim. She includes posts on "mindful parenting" and also posts a hadith that has helped keep her from yelling at her children.

Sunni Siter
Musings of a Muslim woman in New York

Other Faith of Interest
:: List of Quaker Blogs
:: Scientology Blog
:: Uniterian Universalist Blog
:: Facing Inward | One of many yoga practice blogs, Facing Inward covers "motherhood, marriage, and yoga." The blogger discusses yoga classes and her daily practice, trying out new postures and new yoga products, as well as personal stories.
:: Woodmoor Village Zendo | A great-looking and frequently updated weblog about Buddhist news and practice. Offers thoughts on family, politics, and Buddhist basics. Posts include essays on mindful politics and walking meditation
:: The Raving Atheist | Yes Atheist should also have their voice

:: Update: Check out the best spiritual and religious blogs in Beliefnet's new feature, Blog Heaven.
:: Credit: Beliefnet's feature on Best Spiritual Blogs
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Labbaik Allah humma labbaik - Here I am O Lord!

Labbaik Allah humma labbaik
Labbaik la sharika laka labbaik
Innal hamda
Laka walmulk
Laa sharika lak.

O my Lord, here I am at Your service, here I am.
There is no partner with You,
here I am.

Truly the praise
and the provisions are Yours,
and so is the dominion and sovereignty.

There is no partner with You.

:: Above is the audio and its meaning you will be listening at this moment as background music of this blog page. The original is in Arabic.

These very words are chanted annually by multitudes of Muslim from all over the world from Mount Arafat as part of annual rites of Hajj (the sacred pilgrimage) commemorating Prophet Adam's first building of the house of God, known as Kaba and later which was rebuilt by Prophet Abraham with his son. May God shower blessings upon them all. Know more about the history of the Hajj.

Let the wilderness of and the cities thereof lift up thier voice, the villages that Ke'dar doth inhabit; let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Isaiah 42:11

There is One alone and there is no second
. Ecclesiastes 4:8

Labbaika Allahumma, Labbaik, 
Labbaika laa shareeka laka labbaik. 
Innal-Hamda wanni'mata laka wal mulk 
La shareeka lak Labbaik.

Here I am, O Allah, here I am! 
There is none comparable to You and to You I have come, Here I am!
Verily all Praise and Grace are Yours and the Kingdom
One Beloved are You, without a partner. In my Heart there is room for none, only You.
Here I am, O Allah, here I am!

(a non linear (not literal) translation of the Talbiya sung by all pilgrims at Hajj, a powerful chant for Zikr, or Divine Remembrance as well)

+ Read Latest (2011) Post on Hajj here: Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina: from Hajj Experience of Sheikh Nur al-Jerrahi

:: Refernence: 
History of Hajj
Mentioning of Mecca in Old Testament
a Lecture on Hajj
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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Meditative Quranic Verses 7: Life of this world and hereafter

Wama hathihi alhayatu alddunya illa lahwun walaAAibun wa-inna alddara al-akhirata lahiya alhayawanu law kanoo yaAAlamoona

What is the life of this world but amusement and play? but verily the Home in the Hereafter,- that is life indeed, if they but knew!
The Quran: 029.064

Tech Tags:

:: Previous posts on this series
+ Meditative Quranic Verse 1: God and Human heart
+ Meditative Quranic Verse 2: Overflowing Love
+ Meditative Quranic Verse 3: Divine Promise
+ Meditative Quranic Verse 4: Exclusive Devotion
+ Meditative Quranic Verse 5: We are in need
+ Meditative Quranic Verse 6: Choose a way unto the Lord
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Stories of simple advice | If you must cry, cry like a child

The master says: If you must cry, cry like a child.

You were once a child, and one of the first things you learned in life was to cry, because crying is a part of life. Never forget that you are free, and that to show your emotions is not shameful. Scream, sob loudly, make as much noise as you like. Because that is how children cry, and they know the fastest way to put their hearts at ease.

Have you ever noticed how children stop crying? They stop because something distracts them. Something calls them to the next adventure. Children stop crying very quickly. And that's how it will be for you. But only if you can cry as children do.

:: Maktub | Paulo Coelho
:: Paulo Coelho free downloads

:: You may download free the full version of Paulo Coelho's "Maktub", a collection of 110 short stories (published in several Brazilian newspapers) translated by Alan R. Clarke.
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National Geographic reading | Faith and Religion

National Geographics has some very interesting features covering faith and religion. Here are some of the stories:

:: ABRAHAM: Journey of Faith
Abraham’s biblical trek through the Middle East kindled three major religions, whose past and present conflicts would surely sadden this patriarch of peace.

While Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all revere Abraham as their spiritual ancestor, each religion has a different honorific for him. For Jews he is Father Abraham. For Christians he is Father in Faith. In the Koran, the holy book of Islam, God says, “I will make thee an Imam to the Nations,” or leader to all people (Quran 2: 124). read here.

:: In Focus: The world of Islam
Earth’s fastest growing religion, with six million followers in the U.S. alone, reveals striking diversity.

Borne aloft five times a day, from Shanghai to Chicago, Jakarta to Timbuktu, the music of Islam’s call to prayer stirs the soul of devout Muslims everywhere. Whether cast from metal loudspeakers over teeming city streets or lifted as the murmured song of camel drivers kneeling in the sand, it begins with the same Arabic phrase Muslims have used for nearly 1,400 years, Islam’s melodic paean to the Creator. read here.

:: Evolution and Religion Can Coexist, Scientists Say
Joel Primack has a long and distinguished career as an astrophysicist. A University of California, Santa Cruz, professor, he co-developed the cold dark matter theory that seeks to explain the formation and structure of the universe.

He also believes in God. That may strike some people as peculiar. After all, in some corners popular belief renders science and religion incompatible.

Yet scientists may be just as likely to believe in God as other people, according to surveys. Some of history's greatest scientific minds, including Albert Einstein, were convinced there is intelligent life behind the universe. Today many scientists say there is no conflict between their faith and their work.

"In the last few years astronomy has come together so that we're now able to tell a coherent story" of how the universe began, Primack said. "This story does not contradict God, but instead enlarges [the idea of] God."

About evolution, ... what if evolution is God's tool?

:: Islam Expanding Globally, Adapting Locally

:: Opinion about fanaticism: Egyptian writer Dr. Alaa Al Aswany says that the recent fanaticism in Islam is not due to a clash of civilization but poverty.

Fanaticism in Egypt starts in poor areas, because the poor are desperate. The current regime here is dealing with them in an inhuman way, arresting and torturing them. Religion is being used as a cover for social unrest, a way to empower these people who are not empowered. the interview is here.

:: Latest News: St. Paul's Tomb Unearthed in Rome

:: National Geographic Home / National Geographic Magazine
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Friday, December 15, 2006

Salvation? you never know what will bring it !

One of the most touching stories in early Arabic history relates the tale of the Sufi from Baghdad, Abu Bakr al-Shibli (d. 945) who dies and was seen by one of his friends in a dream. On being asked what God had done to him, he said that he had been granted admission to Paradise but was asked by the Lord if he knew the reason for this blessing.

Shibli enumerated all his religious duties, fasting and praying, performing the Pilgrimage and giving alms, but none of these acts of piety had saved him.

Finally the Lord asked him, "Do you remember the cold day in Baghdad when it was snowing and you were walking in your coat when you saw a tiny kitten on a wall shivering with cold, and you took it and put it under your warm coat? For the sake of this kitten We have forgiven you."

Excerpts from The Animal Lawsuits Against Humanity: A modern adaptation of an ancient animal rights tale by a 10th Century Muslim Iraqi, Ikhwan al-Safa (Rabbi Anson Layton). Hossein Nasr, Seyyed also has the work credited to him.

Thanks to dear dear friend Shelby for sharing this beautiful stroy on compassion for fellow creature. and its a good reminder for the believer, no matter on with faith we belong, that our being so called spiritual or religious is worthless against the infinite blessings and mercy of God that we are immersed in every moments. The Truth Realized ones regreted all their life that even if one keep praising God with every breath literally, even then our deeds are insufficient.

It is not our outward prayers, religious offerings (often overpowered and nullified by showiness) that counts; its the compassion for fellow creature which God holds dear to Him, to serve the humanity and the whole of creation is what matters the most. The salvation doesn't depend on believing merely on divinity of a man or others, but on being compassionate to the whole of creation, to serve, in whatever capacity we have.
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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Countless memories and a snowflake | S. F.

I keep imagining ...
As if you are still here
Just a phone call away.

It was just another day,
When you called
Worried that its your first winter, I asked:
How do you feel?
You said that
you loved the winter
‘Mujhe to bohot maza aa raha hai!’

And yes ...
You were waiting for the 25th of November ...
Waiting eagerly for the first snowfall ...

But you left so suddenly
Before it ever came ...

The scene from your window would have been so beautiful
Only if you had been here ...

Almightly Allah has taken you close to Him
Coz He loves you more dearly, my brother ...

And now you would witness the snow all around you ...
The snow you loved so much ...

A lonely snowflake stands by your graveside ...
It represents our love and says that it misses you too!

Allah Hafiz ... until we meet again,
With undying love,
- Bala

A poem, a dearly missed letter and a prayer at the same time. It is a remembrance of a sister about the parted youngest brother. Sister S.F., who is a frequent visitor of this blog, exactly one month back (12 Nov, 06) lost her dear brother, Mohammed Shafatullah followed by the loss of father, Mohammed Hasratullah. Innanillahi wa innailaihi rajiun, Surely we are for God and to Him is the final journey. This poem is written and dedicated in the loving memory of lost brother. May God bless their soul and grant peace. Amen. Pls pray for them.
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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Stories of simple truth | Master, disciple and truth

A disciple approached his master: "For years I have been seeking illumination," he said. "I feel that I am close to achieving it. I need to know what the next step is."

"How do you support yourself?" the master asked. "I haven't yet learned how to support myself; my parents help me out. But that is only a (minor) detail." "Your next step is to look directly at the sun for half a minute," said the master. And the disciple obeyed.

When the half-minute was over, the master asked him to describe the field that surrounded them. "I can't see it. The sun has affected my vision," the disciple said.

"A man who seeks only the light, while shirking his responsibilities, will never find illumination. And one who keep his eyes fixed upon the sun ends up blind," was the master's comment.

:: Maktub | Paulo Coelho
:: Paulo Coelho free downloads

:: You may download free the full version of Paulo Coelho's "Maktub", a collection of 110 short stories (published in several Brazilian newspapers) translated by Alan R. Clarke.
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Monday, December 11, 2006

Guns not way to fight terror, says Nobel winner, Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus

Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus has urged world leaders to get on with the fight against poverty, upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. He has called on world leaders to stop spending money on wars like the one in Iraq.

The 63-year-old and the Grameen Bank he founded have won the peace prize for their work to lift millions out of poverty by granting tiny loans to the poorest of the poor, especially women in rural Bangladesh.

Mr Yunus and Grameen Bank representative Mosammat Taslima Begum have received gold medals and diplomas at a ceremony at Oslo's City Hall to applause from about 1,000 guests.

In the prepared text of his acceptance speech, Mr Yunus says the link between a peaceful world and fight against poverty is clear.

"Poverty is a threat to peace," he said.

He says the new millennium began with a dream to cut poverty in half by 2015, as agreed by world leaders in the United Nations millennium goals in 2000.

"But then came September 11 and the Iraq war, and suddenly the world became derailed from the pursuit of this dream, with the attention of world leaders shifting from the war on poverty to the war on terrorism," Mr Yunus said.

"I believe terrorism cannot be won over by military action."

'Funds not guns'
Mr Yunus says the world must tackle terrorism's root causes. "I believe that putting resources into improving the lives of the poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns," he said.

Mr Yunus says it is necessary to provide opportunities for people to live decent lives in order to build peace. He and the bank have received the peace prize "for their efforts to create economic and social development from below", according to the award citation.

Their work lending small sums to help start businesses, from basket weaving to chicken farming, has pioneered a global movement known as microcredit. The award has traditionally gone to statesmen, peace-brokers or human rights advocates.

Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Ole Danbolt Mjoes says by giving it to Mr Yunus, the group seeks to shine a spotlight not only on the fight against poverty but also on dialogue with the Muslim world and on empowering women.

"Microcredit has proved itself to be a liberating force in societies where women in particular have to struggle against repressive social and economic conditions," Mr Mjoes said.

He also says a "widespread tendency to demonise Islam" has been seen since the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Nobel Committee wants to "narrow the gap between the west and Islam". - via google news, from Reuters.

Nobel Winner: Seek Terrorism's Root Causes
Terrorism will prevail until the world addresses its "root causes," Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus said. "Terrorism must be condemned in the strongest language," Yunus said Sunday, but "we must address the root causes of terrorism to end it for all time to come."

He said he believed "putting resources into improving the lives of the poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns," the BBC reported. Yunus observed the United States had spent more than $670 billion on the war in Iraq.

:: More news on this topic from google news.
:: 'We can put poverty into museums' - Nobel lecture presented by Prof Muhammad Yunus at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony on Dec 10, 2006 in Oslo.
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Vegetarianism and Spirituality

"Most Merciful shows mercy to those who have mercy on others. Show mercy to those on earth, and the One above the heaven will show mercy to you." - Prophet Mohammed, upon him be peace

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet" - Albert Einstein.

"If a man eats meat, he will take on the qualities of the animal he eats and once those qualities enter, the man's anger, his hastiness, and his animal qualities will increase. If he does not kill anything on the inside he will not kill anything on the outside." - Islamic Holiness M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

"The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion." - The Buddha in Mahaparinirvana Sutra

"One is not a great one because one defeats or harms other living beings. One is so called because one refrains from defeating or harming other living beings." - The Buddha in Dhammapada, Ch. 19 (15/270), Max Muller, Trans.

"The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men" - Leonardo da Vinci

"I do feel that spiritual progress does demand, at some stage, that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants" - Mahatma Gandhi

Such words are not about justifying vegetarianism as a dogma but rather imploring to our hearts the deeper side of nutrition and it's importance in modern society.

The subject of nutrition is not simply a question of the food we eat at meals. Besides nutrients, foods contain scents, colours and invisible particles that attract pure light, light that is so essential for our joyful life and well-being. The choice we make is therefore always of consequential significance.

The difference between flesh-based and vegetarian foods lies in the amount of sunlight they contain. Fruits and vegetables are so steeped in sunlight, that one could say they are a condensed form of light. In order to develop the qualities of the heart, besides eating peacefully, one needs to eat consciously. This means bringing in the light, eating the concentrated light which contains the beautiful sounds that connect our hearts to the rhythms and invisible aspects of the Universe. This attracts the luminous properties of matter and illuminates your being, especially your thoughts and emotions, not just today, but throughout your experience of your existence on this material plane.

Your future depends on how you eat and what you eat. Your body is your temple and every action within the temple, done with conscious intention, creates a more harmonious outcome. Transcendence happens as you obtain better and more refined particles to replace that which hold the old and limiting particles which colour your experience of this ecstatic universe. The quality of your food, it's physical properties, not only transforms your emotions and mind, but can actually change your appearance and personality. Everything around us is is permeated by forces and those forces become more pure and subtle the further they reach the higher planes of light that exist here in the physical world.

This realm is of a spiritual nature, which transcends limitations and lives in the pureness of your most luminous and open qualities. The secret to opening the treasure-house of food, is the love and compassion attained within your consciousness. The treasure is the sun, condensed into particles, which we can send to all the centres in our bodies. This essential signpost of love reveals to you that at the deepest level, compassion becomes a healing power in the widest sense.

For those of you who have a religious inclination, it would be interesting to take note that, for example, in the Bible we can read: "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb-bearing seed which is upon the face of the Earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food." (Genesis 1:29)

It is the first dietary law for spiritual life in the Torah/Old Testament (which Jews, Christians and Muslims consider as divinely inspired revelation), where there is no indication for people to eat animals. It is also one of the Ten Commandments: "Thou shall not kill" (Exodus 20:13).

In Jainism, ahimsa, the doctrine of non-violence, is a central theme. Because of this the Jains have maintained a strong and unbroken vegetarian lifestyle throughout history.

"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it." (Bhagavad Gita, 9.26)

by Tony Samara. Vegetarianism and Spirituality - from ancient times to the present | Selected part only. read the full article here.
:: Credit: The Samara Foundation

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