Friday, December 3, 2010

Moral Injury

Surah 5, verses 27-32

27. Recite to them the truth of the story of the 2 sons of Adam. They each presented a sacrifice. it was accepted from one but not the other. Said the latter : "Be sure I will kill you." Surely said the former, "God does accept the sacrifice of those who are righteous."

28. "if you do stretch your hand against me, to kill me, It is not for me to stretch my hand against you to kill you: for I do fear God, the Cherisher of the worlds.

29. "for me, I intend to let you draw on yourself my sin as well as yours, for you will be among the companions of the fire, and that is the reward of those who do wrong."

30. The (selfish) soul of the other led him to the murder of his brother: he murdered him and became (himself) one of the lost ones.

31. Then God sent a raven, who scratched the ground, to show him how to hide the naked body of his brother. "Woe is me" said he; "Was I not even to be as this raven, and hide the naked body of my brother?" Then he became full of regrets---

32. On that account we ordained for the children of Isreal that if any one killed a soul, unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land---It would be as if he slew the whole people: and if he saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.
Then though there came to them many messengers with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

Moral Injury = "perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to, or learning about an act that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations"----Dr Brett Litz

All of us have had moments when we have disliked another. Dislike has the potential to turn into hate and when we hate, it is easy to forget that the "other" is our brother. When we forget the humanity of another, we also lose our own humanity.---we kill our soul and become of those who are lost. ---but when someone shows compassion and mercy to a lost soul, it is as if we have restored humanity---just as the raven showed compassion and mercy to a killer and showed him how to bury his brother.

Lao Tzu said "voilence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself." In this time of increasing intolerance and war, we must accept that intolerance cannot be fought with intolerance---for those who hate and kill are also our brothers. When any one of us commits a moral injury to himself, we injure all of humanity. My brother's inhumanity is also my inhumanity because we each have the potential to fall into brutality---but my humanity is also my brother's humanity because each of us also has the capacity arise to nobility.

We need to find a way to heal our collective moral injury. We need to see a new vision of the world---one that is based on saving a life instead of killing a soul. One that is based on Uniting instead of dividing, on restraining anger instead of committing excess, on giving instead of taking, on "inviting to all that is good and enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong." (Sura 3, v-104)

"One should see the world, and see himself as a scale---with an equal balance of good and evil.
When he does one good deed, the scale is tipped to the good----He and the world are saved.
When he does one evil deed, the scale is tipped to the bad----He and the world are destroyed."
----Moses Maimonides.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Surah 31 verse 20-24

20. Do you not see that God has subjected to your (use) all things in the heavens and the earth, and has made his bounties flow to you in exceeding measure, (both) seen and unseen? Yet there are people who dispute about God, without knowledge, without guidance and without a book to enlighten them.

21. When they are told to follow the (revelation) that God has sent, they say, No, we shall follow the ways of our fathers. What?!, even if it is Satan beckoning them to the chastisement of fire?

22. whoever submits his whole self to God, and is a doer of good, has grasped indeed the firmest handlhold: and to God shall all things return.

23. but if any reject faith, let not his rejection grieve you for to us is their return, and we shall tell them the truth of their deeds: for God knows well all that is in mens hearts.

24. We grant them their pleasure for a little while : in the end shall we drive them to a chastisement unrelenting.

To be a Muslim is to freely submit to God's will and this means to be a "doer of good". Those who reject goodness/good deeds are those who reject God's will. Yet, God's mercy is so vast that those who freely submit to God's will and those who reject God's will are equally sustained and nourished through God's blessings and bounty. But why give blessings to those who reject goodness? Our life on earth--from birth to death--is an opportunity for spiritual growth. God is compassionate and merciful and during our time on earth, gives chances to even those who reject him so that if they do choose to turn to him in repentence, they can have a chance to taste his compassion and mercy. The nourishment and sustenance are blessings from God to all human beings, yet we sometimes take this for granted, thinking that it is simply part of life on earth. We fail to see God's love, compassion and mercy that is actually supporting our life on earth. ---But when we do, our relationship with God becomes filled with gratitude for his love and mercy. As Aristotle said "wicked men obey from fear; good men, from love." The love of God that springs from gratitude by acknowledging his blessings can become a transformative force. As someone said "To love is to recieve a glimpse of heaven." Human beings can use this transformative force for the benefit of all of God's creations. To spread out the blessings and mercy God is blessing us with, to those of God's creations who inhabit the earth along with us. When we transform ourselves, we transform our world.

"One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love." Sophocles.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Surah 55 Ar-Rahman

1. The most Compassionate
2. It is He who has taught the Quran
3. He has created the human being
4. He has taught him insight
5. The Sun and the Moon follow courses computed
6. and the herbs and the trees bow in adoration
7. and the firmament he has uplifted and he has established the balance of justice
8. In order that you may not transgress due balance
9. So establish weight with justice and fall not short in balance
10 it is He who has spread the earth for his creatures
11 In it are fruits and sheathed date palms
12. and husked grain and scented herbs
13 then which of the favors of your lord will you deny?

Some People see love in the actions/deeds of a person. How much someone cares is measured in what the person has done for us. When thinking of God's love, we fall into this trap of trying to measure it in terms of what God has done for us-----Yet, true love is not about recieving but about giving. When a mother loves her child, she only thinks of what she can do for the benefit of her child. When we think of God's love---we should be thinking---not of what God has done for us, ---but what we can do for God. How can we best please God?---by having the right intentions that create the right actions for the benefit of all of his creations.

Because of God's love, his compassion and mercy, human beings have been given guidance, just as a mother thinks of the welfare of her beloved child. It is now upto us to honor this love by giving back........

Monday, May 17, 2010


Surah 48 Al-fat-h verses 1-5

1. Surely We have granted you a manifest victory

2. That God may forgive you the faults of your past and those to follow; fulfill his favor to you and guide you on the straight way.

3. And that God may help you with powerful help

4. It is he who sent down tranquility in the hearts of the believers, that they may add faith to their faith; for to God belongs the forces of the heavens and the earth; and God is full of knowledge and wisdom

5. That he may admit the men and women who believe, to gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell there and to remove their sins from them, and that is in the sight of God, the grand triumph.

Surah 2, Al-Baqarah verses 255-257

255.God, there is no God but he

The living, the self-subsisting, the supporter of all

No slumber can seize hime, nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and the earth

Who is he can intercede in his presence except as he permits? He know what is before or after or behind them.

Nor shall they compass any of his knowledge except as he wills. His throne does extend over the heavens and the earth and he feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them.

For he is the most high, the supeme.

256. let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error. Whoever rejects evil and beleives in God has grasped the most trusted handhold, that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things

257. God is the protector of those who have faith. from the depth of darkness, he will lead them forth into light. Of those who reject faith, the patrons are the evil ones, from light, they will lead them forth into the depths of darkness. they will be the companions of the fire, to dwell therein.

Guidance should not only improve, instruct, ennoble, and empower, it must also inspire in the reciever a transformative energy/force that will create a motivation /attitude of change for the better.
The Quran,
Its Guidance is for the taking
If we want it
Its secrets are to be shared by us,
If we seek them,
Its sweetness is apparent,
iIf we savor it.

"Do not be daunted by the ennormity of the wolds grief.
Do justly now
Love mercy now
Walk humbly now
You are not obligated to complete the work,
But neither are you free to abandon it."
-----The Talmud

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


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

Let's try to fill our thoughts and our hearts with gratitude today......

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spiritual Pleasure

Surah 92 Al-Lail verses 12-21

12. Surely we take upon us to Guide
13. And surely to us (belong) the end and the beginning
14. Therefore I warn you of a fire blazing fiercely
15. None shall burn there but the most unfortunate ones
16. Who give the lie to Truth and turn their backs
17. But those most devoted to God shall be removed far from it
18. Those who spend their wealth for increase in self-purification
19. And have in their minds no favor from anyone for which a reward is expected in return
20. But only the desire to seek for the countenance of their Lord most High.
21. and soon will they atttain (complete) satisfaction.

Rabia Al Basri wrote----
If I adore you out of fear of hell
burn me in hell
If I adore you out of desire for paradise
lock me out of paradise
But, if I adore you
for yourself alone
Do not deny to me your eternal beauty.

Rumi wrote----
A heart without love is nothing but a handful of dust.
A human devoid of love is not worthy of humanity.

As intelligent human beings, we should not forget the values that make us civilized and humane. It is in ever striving for these noble values of compassion, mercy, justice, tolerance, patience, perseverance, love.....that we can create better selves and thus better societies.

Let us strive to be a little better today than we were yesterday.....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Surah 91 Ash-Shams verses 1-9

In the name of God, the compassionate and the merciful

1. By the sun and her brightening
2. By the moon when it follows her
3. By the day when it dispels her
4. By the earth and what shaped her
5. By the soul and what formed her
6. and revealed her debased
7. and revealed her faithful
8. whoever honors her flourishes
9. whoever defiles her fails.

When we contemplate on the world around us, we realize that everything works according to "Laws",....laws of biology, botany, physics etc. These laws are based on cause and effect, a particular cause creates a particular effect. So, it would be reasonable to assume that human beings are also under the influence of "laws". One law, whose effects on the human body we can observe with science, is the law of biochemistry. But we are more than just our body. We also have "self". This "self" is blessed with knowledge and free-will that gives us a certain amount of "control" over the "laws". Yet, this must have an 'effect" or consequence since all of creation works under "laws". This law of "self" is explained in the Quran. ---The right intentions, that lead to right actions for the benefit of all of God's creations. ---Adhering to this law benefits the self by strengthening it in spirituality, ignoring this law harms the "self" by debasing it.
This "law of self" is tied to the "law of Judgement", where the benefit and harm to our "self" will be weighed.

The Tao gives birth to all beings,
nourishes them, maintains them,
cares for them, comforts them
protects them,
takes them back into itself,
creating without possessing,
acting without expecting,
guiding without interfering,
That is why,
the love of the Tao
is in the very nature of things.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Surah 7 al-araf verse 11-17

11. It is We who created you and gave you shape. Then we bade the angels prostrate to Adam. They did so, Not so Iblis; He refused.
12. "What prevented you from prostrating when I commaded you?" He said "I am better than him; you created me from fire and him from clay."
13. "Get down from it, it is not for you to be arrogant here. Get out, for you are malicious.
14. He said "Give me respite till the day they are raised up."
15. "Be you among those who have respite."
16. He said "Because you have thrown me out, I will lie in wait for them on your straight way.
17. Then will I assault them from before them and behind them and from their right and their left; Nor will you find in most of them, gratitude (for your mercies)."

Iblis used his free will to choose a path that disobeyed God. Why did God give him respite? because God is merciful and compassionate to all his creation. The time that we have been given can be used for good, perchance, offsetting our errors. But some of us, in our arrogance and pride may refuse---and be ungrateful for God's mercies, just like Iblis. But if God is omnipotent, why give Iblis the opportunity to "assault" us on the straight way? Why not take away Iblis's free-will so that they will only be observers? Human beings naturally tend to view the world from a Human-centric perspective---everything should be for our well-being/convenience. But taking away free-will also means taking away the chance to repent. Would that not be an injustice? God's justice is for all of his creations.
This life is only a respite. We can use Iblisi logic, and in our arrogance and pride, disregard goodness---or we can walk on the Guided path. Blaming "evil" on God is simplistic. Iblis does not have any power except that which we give them. Because of our free-will, we are fully empowered to determine the course our life here on earth takes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

conditional free-will

Surah 10 Yunus verses 104-109

104 Say: O you people! If you are in doubt as to my religion, (see) I worship not what you worship other than Allah. But I worship Allah---who will take your souls (at death). I am commanded to be of the believers.

105 And further, turn your face towards religion with true piety and never in any way be of the unbelievers.

106 Nor call on any other than Allah; such can neither profit you or hurt you--if you do only see, you will be of those who do wrong.

107 If Allah does touch you with hurt, there is none can remove it but he: If he do design some benefit for you, there is none can keep back his favor. He causes it to reach whomever of his servants he pleases. And He is the often forgiving, Most merciful.

108 Say: O you people. Truth has reached you from your Lord. Those who recieve guidance, do so for the good of their own souls ; those who stray, do so to their own loss: and I am not going to arrange your affairs.

109 Follow the inspiration sent to you and be patient and constant, till Allah decides, for he is the best to decide.

God is Omnicient and Omnipotent and he decides everything. Yet, there is also the reality that we make our own choices and we are responsible for those choices. How do we reconcile these realities? Our free-will is from God and the level of free-will we have in any given circumstances is determined by God. Therefore, sometimes we have many choices, other times only a few and there may be occasions when we have no choice. Our level of responsibility depends on our level of free-will which is determined by God. We cannot escape our responsibilty by refusing to excercise our free will in the hopes that God will decide for us, for the choice to use or not use our God-given gift of free-will is a decision in itself. We must be actively involved in life and living and "arrange our affairs". However, God is compassionate and merciful and has given us a criteria (Quran) so that we have access to His wisdom when we make choices. If we choose to follow His wisdom, it will help us and ease our souls. Yet, as we excercise our free-will, we must also trust in God, ---his power and his love.

One must strive to make dynamic, creative, God-centered decisions. By putting our trust in God and his wisdom, we can make fearless choices. Vincent Van Gogh asks "What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?"

"I love the man that can smile in trouble,
that can gather strength from distress,
and grow brave by reflection.
Tis the bussiness of little minds to shrink;
but he whose heart is firm,
and whose conscience approves his conduct,
will pursue his principles....." Thomas Paine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Surah 45, Al-Jathiya verses 20-27

20.These are the clear evidences to men, and a guidance and mercy to those of assured faith.

21. What! do those who do evil deeds think that we shall make them as equal with those who believe and do righteous deeds,-that equal will be their life and their death? ill is the judgement that they make.

22. God created the Heavens and the Earth for just ends, and in order that each soul may find recompense of what it has earned, and none of them shall be wronged.

23. Then do you see such a one as takes as his God his own vain desire? God has left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put an cover on his sight. Who then will guide him after God has withdrawn his guidance? Will you not then recieve admonition?

24. and they say : "What is there but our life in this world? We shall die and we live, and nothing but time can destroy us". But of that they have no knowledge: they merely conjecture

25. And when our clear signs are rehearsed to them, their argument is nothing but this: they say "Bring (back) our forefathers, if what you say is true"

26.Say: "it is God who gives you life, then gives you death; then he will gather you together for a day of judgement about which there is no doubt". but most men do not know.

27. To God belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and the day that the hour of Judgement is established,- that day will the followers of falsehood perish.

Human beings have an inherent potential for goodness. But sometimes we fail ourselves and we fail God when we choose badness. Evilness degrades our soul. Our life on earth may have blessings but it also has trials and sufferring. Without heaven, our life on earth would have no meaning--all that we do, our goodness, trials and blessings will be for nothing. Without heaven, there would be chaos because there would be no point in being good and doing good.

God created the Universe in balance and harmony. God created the earth and heaven in justice. Our actions and intentions during our time on earth have a meaning and purpose. We are accountable for our choices and we will be judged for all we do. Those who have striven for good and asked forgiveness for their lapse will be rewarded---for this is justice tempered with compassion and mercy. Yet, justice also demands that those who have caused sufferring and pain to others be held accountable for their deeds, and be punished. Aristotle said "In justice is all virtues found in sum."

"Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience, recognize also the voice of justice."
---Aleksander Solzhenisyn

"The way of heaven:
benifit all, harm none"
Lao Tzu.