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Spiritual Meditations

If Muslims wish to escape this horrific picture in which even children are being slaughtered en masse, if they want the tragedies afflicting them to ease and if they truly want peace, then they must follow the path shown by Islam and constantly demand peace. They must not forget that hatred will inevitably create more hatred and end in tragedy, and that war cannot put an end to war. They must always take the road of peace, as our Lord commands in the words, “You who believe, enter absolutely into peace!”……

 
What Religion We Want
Swami Ramdas
What Religion We Want
Swami Ramdas

Religion, whose function is to guide and inspire mankind towards a life of mutual understanding, help and friendliness, has strangely been the cause of racial hatreds, destructive rivalries and false attitudes of superiority. We want a religion shorn of all its narrow particularisation and free from dogmatic beliefs, superstitious impositions and bigoted and sanctimonious ways. We want a religion which appeals to the inner spirit of every man and woman....

 

The Gita teaches us that whatever may be the purpose or way of worship it invariably reaches the Lord of the universe. It also reveals that people worship God for protection from danger, acquisition of desirables, realisation of truth and identification with innermost Self. Our devotion is proportionate to immediate motivation and we cannot sustain devotion for mere abstraction for long.......

 

Dalai Lama: Buddha himself stated 'oh my follower should not accept my teaching out of faith, out of devotion, but rather thorough investigation and experiment, the scientific way of approach.' So all the Nalanda masters like Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Asanga, Chandrakirti, all these great masters of Nalanda, even Buddha's own words, they carry investigation whether Buddha's statement is acceptable or not. So they are always based on logic and experiment so, therefore, I follow that pattern, tradition. For example Mount Meru, many Buddhists no longer accept that.

NDTV: Really?

Dalai Lama: Yes I hope. I still bully Buddhists. So we have liberty. We must accept the reality. The round world, now scientifically through calculation, through observation we actually see that. So the flat world, in centre Mount Meru and sun and moon go like that. As a Buddhist you cannot accept that.....

 

Thus, most Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Bahais and Hindus are so simply because they happen to have been born into families that claim to be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Bahai or Hindu, and not for any other reason. Their inherited religious beliefs so indelibly mould their minds that very often, as adults, even if they do care to study other religions and belief systems, the religion which they happened to have been born into still appears to them as supposedly the best, the most reasonable, the most humane, and even the most ‘scientific’.....

It makes no difference by what name you call God, Baba Nanak tells us here: Ram, Khuda, Gosain or Allah. It doesn’t matter what method of worship you adopt, or where you seek Him: in the bathing Ghats of Kashi, in India, or in the Kaaba, in Mecca, Arabia, or what colour ‘sacred’ dress you wear. What you call yourself—‘Muslim’ or ‘Hindu’ or whatever—too, is immaterial: it’s just a label.....

 

Evil can never remain unchallenged too long. God simply will not allow it. And so, it is only a matter of time, I could tell my friend, before many of his fellow believers, fed up of the way their faith is being manipulated, will begin to denounce those who want to hijack it and use it as a tool to foment hate and terror and pursue their grandiose dreams of global domination. They are bound to begin to rethink and creatively reinterpret their faith in order to rescue it from the mongers of hate......

 
The Essence of Spirituality:  Service of Others
Swami Chidanand Saraswati
The Essence of Spirituality: Service of Others
Swami Chidanand Saraswati

The essence of spirituality is service.  As one goes deeper and deeper on a spiritual path and as one gets closer and closer to Realization and Enlightenment, one realizes that the Divine resides in all. One begins to see God’s presence in every person, every animal, and every plant.....

The Holy Qur’an — which falsehood cannot approach from either in front or behind, which leads people from the darkness to the light, to the path of our Almighty and Omniscient, and much-praised Lord, a blessing, glad tidings and a mercy for all Muslims, an advice and a reminder for those who fear with a trembling heart — was sent down in the month of Ramadan.…..

 

Rumi says further: “There is only one sort of goodness in the world, and that is loving others as one loves himself; in other words, we should regard other people as we regard ourselves. What remains is illusion and nullity.”  To shed light on this obscure area, Sheikh Mahmud Shabistari (1267-1320), in his mystical poem Gulshan-i-Raz (the mystic rose garden), explains the nature of “Self” as follows:

Who am I? Make me well aware of “self”

What does it mean, within yourself, “travel”?

Then you inquired about, what is it “self’?

Make me aware of “Self”. Who is this “Self’?.....

 

The pressure to understand the total spiritual heritage of all humanity as the common heritage of all people everywhere will increase in the years ahead of us. Whatever comes of the search for dialogue between spiritual traditions, the search for spiritual growth and maturity will continue to inspire us to find life and meaning beyond names and forms. The verses from this prayer of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali in some ways echo the longing of every human heart.....

 

While religion today has become an issue relegated to the private realm of our daily lives, Islām has always challenged the status quo with its multi-faceted nature. As a religion, it is unique and comprehensive in the way it helps regulate all aspects of human life. But what truly distinguishes Islām from other faiths such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, is that it does not advocate monasticism….

 

All you need to do is to say just a few words of praise to or about at least ten people you meet, talk about or think about today. If at least one of them is someone you love to hate, it’s even better! If you find this exercise difficult, the least you can do is to consciously refrain from complaining about any person, thing or situation you come across today......

 
Even Smile Is a Voluntary Charity
Aishah Schwartz
Even Smile Is a Voluntary Charity
Aishah Schwartz

How many times have you passed someone walking through a mall, in a hallway at school, on the bus, a train, or in the office where you work, and noticed that no one was smiling? This is often the case among Muslims, which is a contributing factor to the misconception that to be Muslim means being serious all the time; never laughing or having fun. Ironically, this is quite contrary to the Sunnah (the Prophet’s tradition), as Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), was well-known for his congenial nature and smile....

The Environment and Intelligence
Hiranmay Karlekar
The Environment and Intelligence
Hiranmay Karlekar

What is needed is a change in the priorities and values of the society around us, and a vision that transcends the immediate and can take a wider view of things. It will take a huge amount of time and effort to bring about the social consensus essential for such a transformation. Steps to prevent further loss of forests and animal lives would be a good starting point.....

 
Teachers Who Transform
Hasan Zillur Rahim
Teachers Who Transform
Hasan Zillur Rahim

American Muslims have excelled in many fields – engineering, biology, physics, law – to name a few, but by and large, teaching is not one of them. There are relatively few Muslim teachers in America from mainstream public schools, colleges and universities who have been recognized for their brilliance nationwide in the art of teaching. Yet it is teachers who form the backbone of society……

 
The Truth Must Triumph Over Hatred
Tarek Fatah
The Truth Must Triumph Over Hatred
Tarek Fatah

Conventional wisdom dictated that education and exposure to the West would tame the hatred many in Pakistan have for others, but that was not to be.....

When a Mosque Closes Its Doors
Anwar Iqbal
When a Mosque Closes Its Doors
Anwar Iqbal

“Lock your doors and windows. Close your eyes. Recue the light. And wait patiently as now you do not have an option,” said the old man sitting outside the closed doors of a mosque. “Put out the light. Let darkness prevail. This is the darkness that comes before death. So wait patiently for the end.” I went to him, gave a Rs100 note and said: “Baba Jee, it is evening. The day is ending. Soon the night will begin. Be gentle to the people. Do not scare them. Give them hope.” He pocketed the money and said: “I can lie once for a Rs100 but only once.”….

 
Please Don’t Try To Be Extraordinary
Marguerite Theophil
Please Don’t Try To Be Extraordinary
Marguerite Theophil

It reminds me of a teaching story about how God plays a joke on every new-born, whispering, ‘You are the special one!’ But the joke quickly wears thin when, as adult, the once new-born starts running up against several billion others on this planet who all assume that they are ‘the special one’.  Striving to be extraordinary naturally involves competition and comparison, winning and losing. But when one doesn’t win there is that awful term applied – loser – if not by others, then by oneself.....

 
Reflections on Peace in Plural Societies
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Reflections on Peace in Plural Societies
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

It is a psychological reality that one generally takes the critique or admonishment of people whom one considers one’s own in a positive way, and, accordingly, reforms oneself. On the other hand, one generally takes the criticism of people one does not know or whom one considers as the ‘other’ as an insult to one’s honour, and so it does not have a positive impact. With regard to the issue of communal harmony, it is very necessary to keep this bit of practical wisdom in mind......

 

Imagine how sad, the someone, who had gifted you the earth to look after as a custodian would feel on seeing his gift being treated in such a shoddy manner! Imagine what he might think of you! You’d definitely not expect him to be pleased, would you?....

 

And that wasn’t the first time he had done so. He had always been the epitome of mercy and kindness to all. I am sure the noblest of prophets would have forgiven these slights, inadvertent or otherwise, too. After all, he came as a mercy to all mankind. And as his followers, that is what we should do. We cannot counter hatred with more hatred but love. As Lincoln argued, mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.…..

 
Does God Punish Sinners With Disasters?
Mustafa Akyol
Does God Punish Sinners With Disasters?
Mustafa Akyol

Those conservatives in question were maybe right in their outrage at certain misdeeds in Turkey, but I believe they were wrong to interpret the Soma disaster as a divine punishment for those sins. And since the broader issue of whether God really punishes sinners by earthly disasters is relevant for the whole Muslim world, let me elaborate a bit on why……

 

“Soon, the thought came to my mind, that if a little animal could be made so happy with my kindness, how much more happiness I could offer to my fellow human beings. So, the next day, I baked some cookies and took them over to the old lady who lived upstairs. How delighted she was, and how delighted I was to see her so pleased! “And that was how my new life began. I did whatever I could to make people happy.....

 
Fragments of a Faith
Brandino Machiavelli

…. apparent fragmentation into blinkered or scleroticised cults not only promotes internal hate and strife but keeps Islam from gaining its deserved place as a spiritual leader in the modern, globalised world. These sects, some as ancient as Islam itself, others which have developed over the centuries and until recent times, seem to have acquired, in the face of declining European colonialism and the onslaught of American post-colonialism a new impetus….

 


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