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Books and Documents

Spiritual Meditations

Let us be Honest with Ourselves!
Ghulam Rasool, New Age Islam

Let us be Honest with Ourselves!
Ghulam Rasool, New Age Islam

To take an account of oneself, that is, to undergo honest self-criticism, is part of Muslim practice called al-muhasba or self-inventory. According to the Companion Umar ibn al-Khattab ( may Allah be pleased with him): to engage  in al-muhasba is “to asses and adjudge yourselves before you are adjudged and assessed on the Day of Judgment, and weigh out your deeds before they are weighed out for you”. Umar, a man of his word, reportedly used to whip his right foot at night and say to it “What have you done today? Another companion, Maymun ibn Mahran said: “A pious person cautiously examines and adjudges himself more than a tyrant or a tight-fisted partner”. ...

Defeatist Approach towards Doom and Death: Fate and Fatalism
Tazeen Javed

Would I retain any glimmer of hope if I lose my house in floods, a son to hepatitis C or a daughter to childbirth? What if half of my family is blown up in a bomb blast during their yearly shopping excursion in the city before Eid? How can I live through the trauma of being caught in crossfire between militants and the armed forces and see my friends and family die all around me? How can I ever hope to not die and get on with my life? I, too, will need repeated doses of fatalism to survive. Resignation to one’s fate is a necessary evil and, perhaps, a powerful tool of survival...

Introspection, Harmony Urged in Life
Panca Nugraha and Bambang Muryanto

Introspection, Harmony Urged in Life
Panca Nugraha

“We have been living in harmony with our Muslim brothers,” Giri said. “The followers must do away with envy and nurture togetherness, which are both important to create peace,” he said. Offerings made from fruit were served and the temple was decorated. He emphasized the need for Buddhists all over the world to foster harmony not only with other people, but with God and nature as well....

Happily Unemployed And Unemployable
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Happily Unemployed And Unemployable
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam Columnist
It was not without some hesitation that I decided to quit my job recently and vowed never to take up paid employment again. The job was a handsomely-paid one—salaries for university staff having been phenomenally (and most undeservedly)… I would have saved enough to buy myself a fancy apartment or even a luxury villa and stock up a decent sum in the bank to see me through old age. But the idiocy of it all dawned on me soon enough….

Taking Back Our Souls: A Reaction To Sexual Abuse
Chava Tombosky

This topic is a difficult one to approach without a little silence before proceeding. My momentary silence is out of deep respect for the silent pain that has been inflicted on the innocent victims of abuse -- many of whom have been forced into a coerced silence for years or even lifetimes. It is to these victims that I dedicate this essay. Indefinite silence in the face of corruption is a form of inaction. Who's ready to let their voice be heard?...

The Earth Is the Lord's: Our Responsibility for God's Creation
Rabbi Jacob Elisha Fine

"And God blessed [Adam and Eve] and God said to them, 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.'" A hyper-literal reading of this verse is used to justify unchecked exploitation of the natural world for the sake of human consumption. …

 

Rabindranath Tagore based his idea of Humanism on the Upanishads
Hiranmay Karlekar

“But it is a sin to lose faith in human beings; I shall protect this faith to the last. I would hope that after the total, all-encompassing destruction there would perhaps begin a pure self-unfolding of history on the cloudless sky of renunciation on the Eastern horizon where the Sun rises. And one day, unvanquished human beings will surmount all obstacles and advance on a victorious journey to regain their lost status….   

Highly Religious People Are Less Motivated By Compassion Than Are Non-Believers
Yasmin Anwar is a physician

In three experiments, social scientists found that compassion consistently drove less religious people to be more generous. For highly religious people, however, compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were, according to the findings which are published in the most recent online issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science….

Heresy implies not rejection of or indifference toward religion and its objects, but rather curiosity and engagement. Just because I can’t see or make sense of God doesn’t mean I don’t want to, or that I hate believers; on the contrary, I respect—with fear and trembling—the powerful role that religious experience plays in the lives most humans. Heresy demands a particular religious vocabulary, though it also allows for unabashed syncretism. …

 

 

Now This Is What I Call Guru Mahima! Guru Is Everything!!!
Purnima
This morning, he came to me asking to see a doctor. He said his ears were full of wax which rattled when he shook his head, and he wanted it removed. Then he tentatively asked me whether it was because of the earphones, and admitted that he had stopped using them for the past month anyway. Now that he mentioned it, I recall that I haven’t seen him with the gadget on for a while now, and can hear soft music from him room.....

 

What Type Of Meditation Is Best For You?
Patricia Monaghan

What happens when someone who wants to deal with insomnia enrolls in a rigorous class in a course in Zen meditation?  Or if someone who wants to create more spiritual space in her life registers for a health-oriented hatha yoga class?  Most likely, they will join the long list of meditation drop-outs, people who say, “I tried that, but it just didn’t work for me.”…

 

 

Choosing Thy Religion Can Be a Close Shave
Barney Zwartz

The ''monk for a month'' program began in 2008, a year after Ben and his Dutch wife, Jildou, became volunteers in northern Thailand and befriended the abbot of a local monastery. He realised many Westerners might be interested in what is a rite of passage for most Thai men…

 

 

Who Am I? My Brain or My Mind?
You become a Mother Teresa or Bin Laden because of your pre-determined genetic profile and the way your brain is wired.

If someone picks up someone else's belonging and can't remember, can proof of Alzheimer's disease exonerate him of the alleged crime? In the next decade, can sophisticated brain mapping findings be invoked, as mitigating circumstances to explain aberrant behavior? How does society “punish” my abnormal neurotransmitter levels, the aberrant tracts and circuits in my behavioral brain, so elegantly displayed in color in a FM     RI tract gram? Is this the cause or result of my behavior? Who am I?

The Indivisible God
Manzoorul Haque, New Age Islam

The Indivisible God
Manzoorul Haque
What is the whole idea of a God? If God is a rare being to be found hidden in some groove so that man should immediately bow down to him on coming to find him, the question does arise, why this funny antic and on what rational grounds? And of course there can be no limit to the number of such Gods, as every rodent living or dead (since God cannot die) can be ascribed that status simply on the whim of a person choosing to do so….

Making Time for Stillness
Susan Gladin

All you have to do is sit down and shut up, and that’s the hard part. Staying still for 15-20 minutes is easier compared to the effort involved in getting there in the first place. “There” might be a special place with candles and incense, or it can be anywhere you happen to be. Sitting up in bed works for me sometimes so I can catch myself in the morning before my brain has a chance to tell me how busy I need to be. …

 
A Long Overdue Apology
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

A Long Overdue Apology
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for New Age Islam

What, you might ask, drew me to that village, to work as a teacher for a couple of hundred rupees a month? At that time, I had my own ideas as to why I was there, but now, with the benefit of hindsight, I realize that they were hardly as altruistic as I had fondly imagined. Looking back, I now understand that my dream of spending my life ‘doing good’ for the ‘poor’ in ‘backward’ rural India—which actually lasted hardly a year!—was simply youthful rebellion against my family that I detested and against the suffocating norms and expectations of the society I was brought up in. …

Why I Gave Up on Social Activism
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Why I Gave Up on Social Activism
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for New Age Islam
This delightful anecdote neatly sums up the story of my life till now, and that is why I found it so endearing. Ever since I left home, at the age of eighteen, I've been desperately trying to change the world, as a self-appointed missionary of the 'Revolution'. I began identifying with communities in India that saw themselves as 'oppressed', and took it upon myself to champion their 'cause'.

Spare Me This Bloody Nonsense, Please!
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Spare Me This Bloody Nonsense, Please!
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for New Age Islam

"Blood is thicker than water, after all. All said and done, your siblings are your siblings, and you simply have to be good to them," said my mother firmly to me just the other day. How I hoped she would have patiently heard me out and tried to understand why I couldn't force myself to be all so cuddly and sweet with my siblings as she insisted I should! I can't really blame my mother for parrotting the empty rhetoric about blood being 'thicker' than water. She was brought up to think in that conventional way, although I dare say she didn't really bring that maxim into operation in her own life. …

The Holy Quran also is very sacred to such an extent that believers cannot touch the writings of the script unless they are in a state of purity. The Holy Quran says, "None shall touch it except the purified ones." (56:79). This state of purity is achieved by performing ablution as it is done before the five daily prayers….

Futile Battles Over Religious 'Authenticity'
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Futile Battles Over Religious 'Authenticity'
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for NewAgeIslam

Each religious tradition has been interpreted diversely by its votaries throughout history, which explains the bewildering variety of sects within each, with each claiming to represent the sole true understanding of their faith. In turn, each sect passionately denounces the rival interpretations of competing sects as 'deviant', 'false' or 'heretical' or even 'blasphemous'. In many cases, intra-sectarian rivalries have been much more fierce and bloody than inter-religious rivalries. …

Not only do the Abrahamic faiths, i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, place due emphasis on duty towards parents and keeping to the promises made or agreements signed, faith systems such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, also embrace these finer human values. …when Abraham told his son Ishmael of having dreamt that he must sacrifice Ishmael and asked the latter’s view, the son promptly told his father to go ahead with fulfilling his dream. “Father,” said Ishmael “do that which you are commanded, God-willing you shall find me patient” (37:102). …

Buddhist Concept of God
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Buddhist Concept of God
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for New Age Islam

Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan (d. 1988), an Indian Buddhist bhikkhu, wrote extensively on issues related to religion. In this letter to his disciple/friend Yogendra (below), which appears in his book Bhikkhu Ke Patra, he elaborates on the Buddhist understanding of the concept of God….

A Sufi Message from a Pakistani President
The writer is a senior journalist, television commentator and interviewer

The message the Sufis sought to communicate offended nobody: oneness of Being (Wahdat ul Wajood), equality of men, Love as a universal value. Rungs of the stratified Hindu order found the egalitarianism of Sufi Khanqahs, ashrams, hospices, compelling. The first-time visitors to the hospice were overwhelmed by the hospitality. The cuisine was custom made for universal consumption. It was not just vegetarian but care was taken to avoid garlic and onion too which some Hindu sects abstain from. …

Vishwamitra: The Forgotten Rishi
Yogi Ashwini is an author of rare blend of the real and ethreal

Vishwamitra was a Kshatriya king with vast resources and power. However, after realising that physical powers and siddhis were just a trap of the physical world and tapo bal (the yogic power of penance) was supreme power, he renounced his kingdom and went on to become a Brahmarshi who even set out to create a parallel universe; the gods, of course, had to come down to request him to desist. …

Religious Brainwashing Begins At Birth
Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam

Religious Brainwashing Begins At Birth
Yoginder Sikand is a regular columnist for New Age

Being wholly dependent—psychologically, emotionally and materially—on their parents, they automatically imbibe the religious beliefs and prejudices of the latter. This is how blind, unquestioning belief in the religion that they inherit at birth becomes so deeply-rooted in most people as to make it almost impossible for them to shake it off at a later stage in life. Along with this, in many cases children are also socialized by their parents into believing that their religion alone is true and that all others are false, impure or deviant. …

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