Sunday, December 20, 2009


Surah 90, verses 1-20
In the name of God the Compassionate and the Caring
1. I swear by this place
2. And you are the inhabitants of this place
3. By the begettor and the begotten
4. We created the human being in hardship
5. Does he think there is no power over him?
6. He says: look at the goods I consumed
7. Does he think no one sees him?
8. Did we not endow him with eyes, lips, and tongue
9. And guide him to the two high plains
10.And yet, he did not climb the steep path
11.What can tell you of the steep path?
12.To free a slave
13.To feed the destitute on a day of hunger
14.A kinsman, orphan, or a stranger out of luck, in need.
15.Be of those who keep the faith(trust)
16.Who counsel one another to patience
17.Who counsel to compassion
18.They are of the right.
19.As for those who cast our signs away, they are of the left.
20.Over them a vault of fire.

We are capable, intelligent beings with much potential for good if we so choose. Yet, even the best of people among us go through pain and sufferring in their lives. Prophet Muhammed(pbuh) is an example of an exemplary human being and a Muslim(One who submits to God), yet he sufferred too.
Our life experiences are a test. We choose how we deal with them. In war-torn Iraq, some may feel there is no God when they see such senseless pain and sufferring all around them. Some may feel immense anger and helplessness. We may be one of those who cast his signs away because we refuse to see his compassion and mercy and only see despair and destruction.
Yet, we are the inhabitants of this place, we have it within us to help another in need, no matter how great our own need. We have within us the fortitude to climb the steep path.
Courage is made up of patience and faith(trust in God). Instead of dwelling on the material things we lose, we should reflect on the spirituality, patience, and compassion gained by the difficult life experiences. .....even a cactus blooms in the desolate desert.

Surah 67, verses 1-2
1. Blessed be he in whose hands is dominion and he has power over all things
2. He, who created death and life, that he may try which of you is best in deed.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Surah 64 Al-Tagabun verses 8-11

8. Believe, therefore, in Allah and his messenger, and in the light which we have sent down. And Allah is well aquainted with all you do.

9. The day that he assembles you for a day of assembly--that will be a day of mutual loss and gain (among you). And those who believe in Allah and work righteousness--he will remove from them their ill, and he will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever: that will be the supreme triumph.

10. But those who reject faith and treat our signs as falsehoods, they will be companions of the fire, to dwell therein for aye: and evil is that goal.

11. No kind of Calamity can occur except by leave of Allah: and if any one believes in Allah, (He) Guides his heart: for Allah knows all things.

Sometimes it is simply easier to be intellectually lazy.---and we humans will often take the easier route. These verses are interesting because they hint at the root of suffering---as well as its solution.

Euclides frames his understanding of Suffering and God's nature----

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
then he is not omnipotent

Is he able, but not willing?
then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing?
Then whence comes evil?

Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him GOD?

In the above, the key that is missing in the understanding of suffering is Human beings and the effect/consequences of their free-will. When we frame questions in order to understand a phenomenon or problem, we should take into consideration all aspects, for to do otherwise is to frame the wrong question---thus giving ourselves the wrong answer.

If God is omnipotent and therefore, capable of preventing evil---then where does suffering originate from? It comes from the consequences of the egoic actions of human beings. ---But, one might argue---there are forces of nature beyond human control--such as the Asian Tsunami, Katrina(U.S.), or the earthquakes in Asia.(for example China---where a school building collapsed). While it may be easier to blame God, it would be intellectually lazy to do so---in all of these instances, it was human actions that intensified the sufferring, --In China, the buildings were made of shoddy materials--so that someone could make more profit---Katrina---the whole area was built on a former marshland that was below sea level---it was a disaster waiting to happen---and the time was up. In the case of the Asian Tsunami---U.S. warning systems were all over the sea-bed---but secrecy was more important than lives and adequate warning was never passed on to the relevant governments---We humans have the intelligence and the technology to alleviate and/or prevent much of the sufferring in our world---if we co-operate with each other, respect nature and all of God's creations, there is much good that we can do---instead we are divided---too worried about our own petty concerns.
We may be the cause of much of our sufferring but we are also the solution. Many of our Wisdom teachings tell us that all mankind is one family, we are brothers and sisters of each other. As members of a global family, we can show mutual respect, concern and compassion for each other. With this inner attitude, possibilities can open up for much good action....Inshallah.

Our free-will is a gift from God. We can choose to use it wisely for the good of all of his creation.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Surah 31 verses 12-19

12 We bestowed (in the past) Wisdom on Luqman: "Show your gratitude to God." Any who is so grateful does so to the benefit of his own soul: but if any is ungrateful, surely God is free of all wants, worthy of all praise.
13 Luqman said to hs son: "O my son! Join not in worship (others) with God for false worship is indeed the hightest wrong-doing.
14 And we have enjoined on man to be good to his parents: In travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in years twain was his weaning. (hear this command)"Show gratitude to me and to your parents: to me is your final goal."
15 And if they make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not; Yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration), and follow the way of those who turn to me: in the end the return of you all is to me, and I will tell you all that you did.
16. Luqman said "O my son, if there is a weight of a mustard seed and it were hidden in a rock or anywhere in the heavens or on earth , God will bring it forth and God is subtle and aware.
17 O my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just and forbid what is wrong and bear with patience constancy whatever happens, for this is firmness (of purpose) in the (conduct of) affairs.
18 And don't swell your cheek (in pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth: for God does not love the arrogant boaster.
19 And be moderate in your pace, and lower your voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of an ass."

This may have been Luqman's advice to his son, but there is much we can learn from it. True faith comes from inside---from the integrity of character, and this is best reflected in our relationship with our parents. In our pursuit of ambition and pleasure, we should not forget the sacrifices our parents have made for us. Likewise, we should always be grateful for the blessings God has bestowed on us. If we keep in mind that our return is to God, it will help us in our journey through life. It is not for us to determine what someone else is doing or not doing---for God knows all---we should concentrate on our soul/self, for we can only control our own intentions and actions. Practicing, moderation, patience and humility in our relationships, we strengthen our character and bring our soul/self closer to true faith.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Free Speech?

Surah 49 Al-Hujurat verses 10-13

10. The Believers are but a single Brotherhood
So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers;
and have awe of God that you may have mercy

11. O you who believe! let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, Nor call each other by offensive nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, after he has believed: And those who do not desist are doing wrong.

12. O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other, Nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? No, you would abhor it...but have awe of God. For God is oft-returning, Most merciful

13 O Mankind! We created you from a pair of male and female, and made you into Nations and Tribes that you may know each other (not that you despise each other). Surely the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God is full of Knowledge and is well aquainted (with all things)

Words express our thoughts, confirm our attitudes, and define our character. In our human interactions, those of noble thoughts, attitudes and character refrain from speech that causes harm to another.
When speech is used to degrade, harm, or cause hurt to someone, it is as if we are eating their flesh for we reduce our own pain by causing pain to another.
The Quran reminds us, we are all one family, all brothers and sisters to one another...and we will all return to God. Can we not leave labels of seperation behind and define ourselves by our oneness?

Sutra Nipata writes....
As the flower blown out by the wind
goes to rest and cannot be defined
so the wise man, freed from individuality
goes to rest and cannot be defined
goes beyond all images
goes beyind the power of words.

What is your identity?

Friday, October 9, 2009


Surah Ad-Duha--93
In the name of God, the Compassionate and the Merciful.
1. By the glorious morning light
2. And by the night when it is still
3.Your Guardian Lord has not abandoned you
nor is he displeased
4. Surely the hereafter will be better for you than the present
5. Your Guardian Lord will be giving to you,
you shall be content
6. He found you wandering and he gave you guidance
7. He found you in need and made you independent
8.Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness
9.Nor repulse him who asks
10.But the bounty of your Lord rehearse and proclaim.

Loving someone can be a cause for anxious moments when we do not know if they love us back. Lady Horikawa expressed in her Haiku
Will he always love me?
I cannot read his heart
My thoughts this morning
are disordered as my black hair.
When we love, we need to know we are loved in return. If we cannot fathom the human heart, can we presume to have any inkling of the love God has for his creation, for us? How can we hope to ever gain his love? What could be the nature of such immense Love?
Tsurayuki answers in another Haiku
No, the human heart
is unknowable
But in my birthplace
the flowers still smell
the same as always
When we look to nature, we can see God's love. The flowers bloom every spring, they bring nectar to the bees who make honey. When we look at our lives, we see God's love. He provides sustenance and guidance so that we too can grow in spirituality and understanding. Like the glorious morning light and the night when it is still, his love is constant and ever present in many forms in our lives. So look to nature and remember ........
The monk Ryozen gives this advice
When I am lonely
and go for a walk, I see
everywhere the same
Autumnal dusk.

How big is your love?


Surah Al Waqia (56) verses 63-74

63. Do you see the seed you sow in the ground?
64. Is it you that cause it to grow or are We the cause?
65. Were it our will, we could make it broken orts. and you would be left amazed.
66. (saying), "We are indeed left with debts"
67. "Indeed we are deprived"
68. See you the water which you drink?
69. Do you rain it down from the clouds or do We?
70. Were it our will, we could make it saltish (unpalatable). Then why do you not give thanks?
71. See you the fire which you kindle?
72. Is it you who grow the tree which feeds the fire, or do We grow it?
73. We have made it an article of comfort and convenience for the denizns of the deserts
74. Then glorify the name of your Lord, the supreme!

It is often the little things in life that bring us the greatest, most sincere joy. Yet, in savoring the happiness of the moment, we overlook to thank God. Often, we are so focused on ourselves, that we overlook the big things too. It is a priveledge to live on this planet, to enjoy the wonders of nature, to eat of the foods from the earth, the sea, and the soil, to have the company of those we love......yet, we forget to thank God.

In this age of abundance and luxury, our attention sometimes wanders to the things we do not have but would like to have. In our pursuit of achievements or success, we forget that our stay here is transitory, that our final destination is to God..... Our God, who is compassionate and merciful and has given us so much.

Instead of looking at all the inconveniences and trails of the day, it is time to strive for an attitude of gratitude for the blessings we have been given. To remember to take the time to thank God, the compassionate and the merciful.

For each new morning with its light

For rest and shelter of the night

For health and food

For love and freinds

For everything your goodness sends

---Thanksgiving by Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts
With our thoughts We make our world


Try to fill your thoughts and your hearts with gratitude today......

Monday, August 17, 2009


Surah 16 verse96-100

96. What is with you must vanish: What is with Allah will endure. And we will certainly bestow, On those who patiently persevere, their reward according to the best of their actions.

97. Whoever works righteousness, Man or Woman, and has faith, surely to him will we give a life that is good and pure, and we will bestow on such their reward according to the their actions.

98. When you do read the Quran, seek Allahs protection from Satan the rejected one.

99. No authority has he over those who believe and put their trust in their Lord.

100. His authority is over those only, who take him as patron and who join partners with God.

Buddha's "Universal Law" says that ---all things change and are impermenant. The "reality we have is now", yesterday has passed and tomorrow is yet to be--we only have the present. But, this "present" will also pass away. Allah is the only reality that is permenant and will endure. This means that both happiness and suffering are impermenant, transient. We can only live now, in this moment---and it is in this moment that we have intentions that can be translated into actions---but this moment will pass. The Japanese have turned this philosophy into an art and celebrate its essence in everyday life as Wabi Sabi.---"It nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple (human)realities--that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

God is "the reality that is dependent on no other reality, but upon whom all other reality depends, through whose will all other realities have come into being, and who has, himself not come into being through any other principle." Mutahari.

It is when we contemplate the transient, that we begin to have an inkling of the enduring permenance of Allah.

Do you wabi sabi?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Surah 37 verses 100-106

100 "O my Lord! grant me a rightous (son)!"
101 So we gave him the good news of a forbearing son.
102 Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) work with him, He said: "O my son! I have seen in a dream that I offer you in sacrifice: Now see what is your view!" (the son) said: "O my father! Do as you have been commanded: You will find me, if Allah so wills, one of the steadfast."
103. So when they had both submitted (to Allah), and he had laid his forehead
104. We called out to him, O Abraham!
105. "You have already fulfilled the dream!-thus indeed Do we reward those who do right.
106. For this was a clear trial---

For a long time, this story puzzled me. Prophet Abraham was a great man (and muslim) because through the use of his intellect, he arrived at an understanding of God, the most merciful, the most compassionate, the most supreme. Therefore, How could he, who understood God so well, think that a dream that called for the sacrifice of another human being could be from God? Then I realized---he did not---I was making an assumption!! re-read verse 102!!!
This story is not about "sacrifice" ---nor is it about a faith so strong that reason and belief are suspended---No! In my opinion----this is about Trust. It is through Trust in God that we attain "surrender". Prophet Abraham understood God so well, that through this knowledge he was certain that God, the most powerful, the supreme, would not let him go astray. He completely trusted God. And this trust was fulfilled---for God did not allow the son to be sacrificed. This story is about the ideal relationship between man and God.

How strong is your trust?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Is and Is not

Surah 59 (Al-Hashr) verses 21-24
21. Had we sent down this Quran on a mountain , Surely you would have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder in awe of Allah. Such are the similitudes which we give to men that they may reflect.
22. Allah is he than whom there is no other God; who knows (all things) both secret and open; He, most gracious, most merciful.
23. Allah is he than whom there is no other God---the sovereign. the holy One , the source of peace (and perfection),the gaurdian of faith, the perserver of safety, the exalted in might, the irrisistible, the justly proud, glory to Allah! (High is He) above the partners they attribute to him.
24. He is Allah, the creator, the originator, the fashioner, to him belong the most beautiful names. Whatever is in the heavens and earth does declare his praises and glory, and He is the exalted in might, the wise.

Language is limited and inadequate. It cannot explain the unexplainable. It cannot fathom the unfathomable. It cannot be used to create a picture or image of the uncreated.

Lao Tzu says it well....
Since before time and space were, Tao is
It is beyond "is" and "is not"
How do i know this is true?
I look inside myself and see.

We cannot use the limited and inadequate tool of language to understand God....we must use our hearts and our souls....

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mountains shall vanish

Surah 78 verses 1 - 20
In the name of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful.

1. Concerning what are they disputing?
2. Concerning the great news
3. About which they cannot agree
4. Surely they shall soon know
5. Surely, surely, they shall soon know
6. Have we not made the earth as a wide expanse
7. And the mountains as pegs?
8. And created you in pairs?
9. And made your sleep for rest,
10. And made the night as a covering
11. And made the day as a means of subsistance?
12. And built over you many firmaments
13. And placed (therein) a blazing lamp
14. And do we not send down from the clouds water in abundance
15. That we may produce threwith grain and vegetables
16. And gardens of luxurious growth?
17. Surely the day of sorting out is a thing appointed
18. The day that the trumpet shall be sounded, and you shall come forward in crowds
19. And the Heavens shall be opened as if there were doors
20. And the mountains shall vanish as if they were a mirage.

Science has advanced and with it our understanding of how our universe works. Knowledge has the potential of making us arrogant. Because we know how things work, we might presume that we can "control" everything around us. If things work according to "laws' such as the laws of physics for example---then if we understand these "laws" and learn to manipulate and control them, then we "master" our surroundings---or so we think.

But this feeling of superiority/control is only an illusion--everything around us works because of God. Even simple things such as growing a vegetable garden. We might think that because we water it everyday and take care of it---that the vegetables were grown by us---but this is an illusion. On the day of judgement--illusions will be washed away like a mirage and we will see reality.

Does this mean that we are powerless? Our free-will is a gift to be used wisely. If we recognize that all things are "submitting to God" ---be it a plant growing from the soil, or rain falling from the sky, Then perhaps we can learn to be more humble. When we give up our arrogance--we will better appreciate and respect all of God's gifts to us---and be grateful.

Some scientists are looking at nature with different eyes. They have begun to appreciate the awwsome efficiency and perfection of nature and are trying to copy it/use it for the benefit of humans and the environment. They call it biomimicry.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ask not

Surah 2 verses 268-272
268-Satan threatens you with poverty and bids you conduct unseemly.

God promises you his forgiveness and bounties. And God cares for all and he knows all things.
269-He grants wisdom to whom he pleases, and to whom wisdom is granted, he recieves a benefit overflowing: but none will recieve admonition except men of understanding.
270-And whatever you spend in charity or whatever promises you make, be sure God knows it all. But the wrongdoers have no helpers.

271-If you disclose acts of charity, it is ok, but if you conceal them and make it reach those in need, that is best for you: It will remove some of your stains. And God is well aquainted with what you do.
272-It is not for you to guide them to the right path. But God guides whom he pleases. Whatever of good you give benefits your own soul and you shall do so seeking God's countenance. Whatever of good you give, shall be rendered back to you and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.

As the world grapples with the potential of a global financial crises, it is appropriate to reflect on President Kennedy's famous words--but with a twist---Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God.----
And what we can do for God is to have the right intentions that create right actions for the benefit of all God's creations.

What we can do, is put morality and ethics in the forefront of our bussiness practices where the benefit to our fellow man is of paramount importance rather than the amount of money one can rip off in the short term.

What we can do, is remind our politicians that they serve the people---not corporations. Their responsibility is to their fellow citizens. And what is best for people, is a moral, ethical and responsible gevernment.

What we can do, is take care of our selves, our family, our relations, our neighbours, and those in need so that we can all hope for a better future.

But what we really should do is use our intelligence to find ways on how best we can serve God.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Power of Good

Surah 41 verse 34-36
34. Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (evil) with what is better: then between whom was hatred, become as it were, friends and intimates.
35. And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self restraint--none but persons of the greatest good fortune.
36. And if (at any time) an incitement to discord is made to you by satan, seek refuge in God. He is the one who hears and knows all things.

Goodness is a powerful tool---powerful enough to melt away hate--but, to use it well, requires the strength of patience and self-restraint.

The Golden rule of Confucious--
" What one does not wish for oneself, one aught not to do to anyone else, what one recognizes as desirable for oneself, one aught to be willing to grant to others"
--- it is a wise rule to follow in our daily relations and the foundation on which courtesy and manners are built. But to take it a step further and be kind, courteous and good to those whom we dislike can be difficult. It can be done if we are able to develop in ourselves compassion and mercy for those whom we cannot like or understand.

In today's uncertain world, it is worthwile to have faith in the power of good--to have good intentions that create good actions for the benefit of God's creations.

Every human being must strive to understand the eternal law of truth and righteousness (Asha vahista=Good mind) and must try to realize it in his daily life. In order to do this, he must cultivate love---universal love---(Vohu manu=ethical thought) and realize it deep within his inne self. This truth and love once realized, must be translated into acts of service (khshathra vairya=supreme power) All through, one must hold fast to firm unshaken faith (Spenta armati=Holy devotion) faith in the essential goodness and divinity of all creation, and thus one attains to perfection and immortality (Haurvatat and Ameretat) and becomes perfect as our Ahura mazda (divine) ....

What goodness shall we spread today?

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Surah 102

1.The mutual rivalry for piling up things diverts you
2.Until you visit the graves
3. No, you shall soon know
4. Again, you shall know!
5. Nay, were you to know with certainty of mind
6. You shall certainly see hellfire!
7. Again, you shall see it with certainty of sight
8. Then shall you be questioned that day about the indulgence.

The approval of others, success, the desire for achievement, these become our goals so that we forget ourselves. We get caught up in accumulating approval, success, achievements etc and we can feel lost without these goals. But our life here on earth is short. Our fast paced life, from birth to death is like a falling raindrop. It is too late to realize what is important when it is almost over. "Things" can never satisfy our soul. Such hunger can only be satisfied by spirituality.

In order to live in such a way that regrets are minimal, it is important to create balance. We need to feed both our worldly needs and our spiritual needs.

Tao te ching
"The five colors blind the eye
The five tones deafen the ear
The five flavors overwhelm the palate

Fancy things get in the way of one's growth
Racing here and there,
hunting for this and that---
Good ways to madden your mind that's all

Relinquish what is without
Cultivate what is within
Live for your center, not your sences. "

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"The will of God Prevails"

Surah 105
In the name of God, Most compassionate, most merciful.

1. See you not how your Lord dealt with the Companions of the elephant?
2. Did he not make their treacherous plans go astray?
3. And he sent against them flights of birds
4. Striking them with stones of baked clay
5. Then did he make them like an empty field of stalks and straw (of which the corn) has been eaten up.

The Surah refers to an event around 570 CE when the Abysinnians tried to destroy the Kaba. Here the will of God prevents this from happening.

Today---with the ongoing conflict between Israel/Palestine --It is interesting to reflect on this verse along with the observations made by Abraham Lincoln during the American civil war.

"The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party---and yet, the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect his purpose. I am almost ready to say this is probably true -- that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere quiet power, on the minds of the now contestants, he could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began, and having begun, he could give final victory to either side any day, yet the contest proceeds"

It seems to me that when the passionate desires for hate, revenge, power, and possession of territory are changed to the noble virtues of justice, compassion, mercy, recognition of our brotherhood and sharing our earth, then we will have learned the lesson that a better world will come about when we try to submit to God's will. For 60 years this contest has continued.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Surah Ikhlas (112)
1. Say: He is God, The One
2. God, the eternal, absolute
3. He begets not, nor is he begotten
4. And there is none like unto him.

God is one, indivisible unique. God is the creator, all else is the created. God is independent of his creation but all creation is dependent on him.

God does not "need" or "want". God will exist regardless of what we do or do not do. So what is the purpose of Guidance?

Guidance is given to people because God is compassionate and merciful and gives us warning of Judgement day so that we can choose the path that is right and avoid the path that is wrong.