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Books and Documents

Spiritual Meditations

From Jet-Setting Executive to Penniless Sanyasi
Yoginder Sikand, New AgeIslam

You must, I’m sure, have felt that way at some time or the other. The sudden impulse overtakes you and you think that the only thing you now want to do is to completely abandon the world and flee to some remote Himalayan cave or peak, there to spend the rest of your life all by yourself and on your own terms. And, then, just as suddenly as that urge hits you, it dies out. The temptations of the world, the responsibilities and relationships you are burdened with, the expectations that others have of you and which you feel compelled to meet, and, then, the enormity of the challenge of living on your own, with no security of family or bank balance, all act to drag you back to the ‘real world’ and you quickly abandon your dreams of giving up everything for a life of total freedom.

 
Let’s bid farewell to Ramadan!
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam

Let’s bid farewell to Ramadan!
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam

All people, more or less, feel a sense of regret by departure of the Holy month of Ramadan. However, the best thing we could do on this occasion is to take an account of ourselves. We need to do an evaluation of where we stand now after remaining hungry and thirsty for so long. We should ask ourselves certain questions like where we were before the arrival of Ramadan and where we are moving now after passing the days of fasting. Let this self-introspection lead us to feel infinite happiness for the good we have done throughout Ramadan and remorse for the bad which we have not yet changed, even at the end of Ramadan.

Certainty and intolerance
Khaled Ahmed

‘Wisdom’ (‘hikmat’), in Islam, is based on flexibility of response and becomes dysfunctional when views are strongly held. Wisdom may look to some like a dishonourable compromise. Principles become a force against flexibility. If Muslims were only intolerant of non-Muslims, they would still be an internally serene community; but they are intolerant of different schools of thought within Islam. This takes us into the domain of group psychology.

Dealing with Inherited Prejudice
By Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Dealing with Inherited Prejudice
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

I grew up with mixed impressions about Muslims. I was told that they were particularly sensitive about, and wedded to, their religion in a way that no other people were, that they were apparently solely responsible for the Partition of India, that they were ‘prone to being violent’, that they were, by and large, ‘dirty’ and ‘uneducated’ and that almost the only thing that they ate was meat....

 

Sri Krishna’s Birthday Celebrations: Happy Janmashtami
Mike Ghouse

Hinduism sees God in three broad categories: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma reflects the creator form of God, and Vishnu represents the preserver aspect of creation that inspires one to be righteous, and Shiva brings a finite ending to life. It is a part of the life cycle: every human is born, lives on and finally disintegrates. Much of Hindu philosophy revolves around the preservation aspect of life; two of the most common and well known reflections are in the persona of Lord Krishna and Lord Rama....

Let Children Be!
By Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Let Children Be!
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Honestly, I have no idea how parents can be made to be more open to the idea of children expressing themselves freely, but I would make just one practical suggestion here: a compulsory course in loving parenting for all would-be parents, wherein issues about the right of a child to express herself or himself are also stressed. That may not make a radical difference in the ways in which many parents actually bring up their children, although, who knows, it actually might!...

 

The Power of One Can Move a Mountain, Literally
Aamir Khan

The future of our nation depends on whether we decide to be determined followers of dreams or cynical naysayers. What can I do alone? I am just one among 1.2 billion. Even if I change, what good will it do? What about the rest? Who will change everyone? First get everyone else to change then I too will change. These are some of the most negative thoughts I have heard all through my life….

Alice, But Not In Wonderland: The Story of an Indian ‘Maidservant’
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

I have reposed all my faith in God. If He chooses that I should live that long He’ll definitely provide for me in some way. And if He thinks my time is over and I don’t have to suffer more, He’ll take me up to Him, lifting me out of this world, saving me from having to worry myself mad wondering how I am going to manage when I’m old and unable to work. So, I really don’t have to worry at all about the future.’...

 
An Unconventional Man of Will
By Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

An Unconventional Man of Will
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

You don’t need to have carefully studied Friedrich Engels’ classic ‘The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State’ to understand how the patriarchal family and the system of family-based inheritance is at the root of economic inequality globally and is geared to perpetuate it…. The rich pass on their property to their children and the poor their poverty and that’s how poverty and economic inequality are reproduced one generation after the next….

Goodness Is Everywhere
By Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Goodness Is Everywhere
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

But we all change—every minute of our lives—and I can’t really explain why but in the last few months I’ve been forced to notice much good in people around me and, moreover, to admit and appreciate it. None of these folks are saints, nor are they self-styled ‘social activists’ or ‘social workers’. They are just ‘ordinary’ folks going about their lives. And, they aren’t making an effort to be good.

Hope for a Mad, Mad World
By Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Hope for a Mad, Mad World
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Stand on a street corner and watch people go by. Almost every adult you see is rushing about on ‘work’, looking preoccupied or miserable and driven by a frightening frenzy. That’s madness, in a way, you will admit. This is how life is for almost all folks-- a non-stop race working for maximizing material comforts and possessions. Hardly any of us is at all conscious of the simple truth that, sooner or later, death must come and then we must part with all the possessions that our relentless, almost life-long, activity is geared to acquiring. ...

Your Body Is God's Palace
Swami Sivananda

Creation has many aspects and among the various beautiful creations of God, the human body stands out prominently as His most wonderful creation. Swami Sivananda calls the body a mysterious moving palace within which God dwells. Buddhi or intellect is His prime minister; mind is the commander; the 10 indriyas or senses are soldiers...

 
Divine Nature of Silence
Avatar Meher Baba

Divine Nature of Silence
Avatar Meher Baba

Silence is God's nature. In His formless state in the beyond, silence is absolute and eternal. Silence represents Oneness. Sound represents duality. Sound needs a source and the receiver. As the urge to know - Koham - was latent in the beyond state, the Word was. As the original urge flowed to the beyond state to manifest, Word was also transmitted and manifested along with the urge. As it manifested, it produced sound....

How Can I Forgive You If You Do Not Even Mean It?
Shaheera Syed

After I recovered from my embarrassment and confusion, I resumed the task of scrolling through what looked like an endless list of forwarded messages asking for forgiveness and wishing me Shab-e-Barat Mubarak.. Many of the messages were from people that I don’t even remember the last time I had talked to. It was when I got the exact same message from a number of people that I began asking myself if these people really meant what they were saying....

A Muslim is required to believe in God — the unseen — the Day of Judgment, the prophets and messengers who were sent to humanity from time to time and the divine revelations in the Torah, Bible and Qur’an. Muslims believe in the sole supremacy and oneness of Allah, the creator of the universe, and the one who alone has complete power over everything. In addition, Muslims must fulfil the requirements of the five pillars that constitute the practice of the faith of Islam....

 

Meet the Newddhists: Buddhism is now the fourth largest religion in the United States
James Atlas

The fundamental insight of the Buddha is this: life consists of suffering, and suffering is caused by attachment to the self, which is in turn attached to the things of this world. Only by liberating ourselves from the tyranny of perpetual wanting can we be truly free.  Not that I am ready to renounce this world, or its things. "I am still expecting something exciting,” ...."drinks, animated conversation, and gaiety: an uninhibited exchange of ideas.” So do I. But I need a respite from those things, too.....

 

Prophet’s Companions and the Energy of Money
Ghulam Rasool, New Age Islam

A person’s mettle is, however, tested by how he deals with the surfeit of energy that considerable wealth represents and the lack of it as well. As some philosopher has put it: Money doesn’t change men, it merely unmasks them. If a man is naturally selfish or arrogant or greedy, the money brings that out. That is all.” There are well-known examples of people acquiring great wealth and in the process, heading towards self-destruction. But can wealth lead to good and the betterment of society? Of course, it can. We find some brilliant examples in our own history. It is quite instructive to see how some of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) coped with the enormous energy that wealth brings with it.....

..."of all the realities of existence, the most honoured and cherished is the wisdom and intellect possessed by humanity. Philosophy, art, sciences, inventions and industry all emanate from it." He asserts that the happiness and prosperity of human beings lies in the development of their capacity and faculties rather than the selfish pursuit of interests going beyond their immediate needs. The evolution and manifestation of this reality within civilisation is concomitant with the development of the same within individuals. ...

Value Education: The Non-Preachy Way
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Value Education: The Non-Preachy Way
Value Education

Modern 'mainstream' education is faced with a major crisis of meaning. Although it may seem to do well in imparting information, it miserably fails in inculcating positive human values in students. While it seeks to cram children's heads with facts and figures, it does little, if anything at all, to make them better, more loving, joyful and compassionate human beings. Contemporary education being geared essentially to training students for the job market, children are carefully schooled in such values as aggressive competition, self-centredness, blind imitation of Western culture and unbridled materialism and consumerism....

Existence vs. Non-Existence
Manzoorul Haque, New Age Islam

A philosopher cannot answer everything. Expecting him to do that is to punish him for trying to do what he can. I am sure some of my curious friends (especially the atheists of the world) would begin to ask me searing questions that arise from this presentation. What can I say except that I am aware of some such questions myself but cannot answer? I can thus freeze my answer here and now for which I have a ground – its inadequacy. But the problem is that the question is unceasing in my mind as in everybody else’s mind. I feel like we are all on one side, and we could possibly share what we know, or we seem to know. ...

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Describes Terrorism, Fear and Spirituality
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a spiritual leader

Spiritual education is crucial to help individuals deal with anger and hatred. Without a means to control them, anger and hatred can lead to a situation where one loses sight of reason. When the ability to reason is lost, human values of tolerance and compassion are lost. Respect for life, which is the basis for all human values, is also lost as a result. Terrorists have no respect for life. In reality, terrorists have no religion, no nationality and no philosophy, for they are blind to reason. ...

 

Is Science Another Of Those Fanatical Religions?
Professor B. M. Hegde

Any criticism of science is frowned upon even by the laypeople who have been thoroughly brainwashed to believe that science has the legitimate right to supremacy in this world. Some of the material comforts of technology like communications, transportation and electricity have added proof that the science base of these technologies is to be venerated. Scientists are so deluded by their invincibility that they have no patience to listen to any other view. There is no debate in this arena. As long as there is no debate, there will be no progress....

Child-Like, in Heaven?
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Child-Like, in Heaven?
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Is this pure infant-like state, a state of liberation from all dogmas, beliefs and identities that society is desperate to impose on the infant as soon as it can, what Jesus also means when he indicates that only those who become child-like can ever enter the ‘Kingdom of Heaven”? Is the way to ‘heaven’, returning to the state of infant innocence, thus also about becoming completely innocent of all these impositions, so much so that one no longer identifies with and clings to this or that religion...

 

Guru Nanak, One of the Greatest Symbols of Pluralism and Tolerance in the World
Happy 542nd Birthday Guru Nanak

Among the great philosophers and thinkers that India gifted to the world are two men who tower above the rest- Buddha and Guru Nanak, the founders of Buddhism and Sikhism. While Buddha is well known in the West as a result of his creed and followers, Guru Nanak, whose birthday we celebrate today is yet to be discovered.

Let this Muslim introduce you to the man who founded the world's youngest religion, Sikhism and who had a profound role in shaping my Punjabi heritage, alas, one that was torn to shreds by the bloody partition of India in August 1947....

If God is understood as supreme, infinitesimal, all-pervading spiritual substance, his power over matter and soul becomes clear. Then, we would not need to regard God as an object of obeisance through blind faith; rather we would understand God scientifically. Superstition would yield place to scientific enquiry and curiosity, which would be satisfied rationally. This would make way for true communion with God…..

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