Poem: The Tall Grass

Mountain field with wild flowers

The Tall Grass

I could listen all day
to the eucalyptus leaves
rustling in the wind, passing it on.
You said once
that the world was stale and worn,
like a room where everything’s been used.
Sometimes I wonder
if you were speaking of yourself.
I don’t see the world that way,
or you either. At this moment
the clouds in the Eastern sky
are limned with red light
like the edge of a forest fire.
The cows across the road are grazing
in the acres that burned last year.
Now tall green grass grows there.
I know they are slow beasts, barely aware,
but they love their calves,
and they worship in their way.
They are beautiful in their striped coats.
All is beautiful, especially you.

If your world is a stale room
then let me break the door
and carry you into the June sunshine.
Maybe you’re right that everything’s been touched,
but the world renews itself.
The rains wash to the sea,
and all is clean. I know that –
like the acres where the cows graze –
you’ve been burned.
You said you have ten thousand questions
and nowhere to turn. You said
you are a painful mystery to yourself.
That’s okay. None of us have answers,
none of us know our own depths
any more than we know the stars..
You are innocent as a child to me.
You are new, never stained,
the tall grass growing green
on the acres of your soul.

Wael Abdelgawad
June 11, 2012

Faith, love and kindness are secret weapons to change the world

Sunrise about snowy fields

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Faith, love and kindness are not cute ideas or naive catchphrases. They are elemental forces with the power to alter human hearts, and to change the world. They are transformative emotions and behaviors that were bestowed upon us by Allah, who is Al-Rahman (The Most Merciful) and Al-Wadood (The Most Loving). They are stronger than hurricanes, and they transcend the birth and death of individuals, and the rise and fall of nations.

Don’t we still have love for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), and for the Sahabah, all of whom lived many generations and nations ago? In fact we look upon them as our heroes and leaders and we love them as if they were dear friends. This is proof of the enduring nature of love, which survives when all else changes around us.

Faith, love and kindness are the secret weapons that Allah has given us to conquer corruption, cynicism, hatred, racism, and evil, in ourselves and in the world.

These ideas are not naive, as some might say. Was the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) naive? He suffered in his mission, but he persevered. His mission was rooted in faith and love of Allah, and expressed through kindness to all people. There are so many stories about him showing tremendous kindness to rude and even murderous people, and changing their hearts in the process. He succeeded in the face of impossible odds. His success is a testament to the power of these noble emotions and behaviors.

That’s why I illustrated this piece with a photo of sun rays shining on a dark and snowy world. Because these powerful emotions and behaviors are not the stuff of sunny afternoons, cotton candy and daisies. They are like a guiding star that is only seen in the darkness. They come into their own and show their true power by confronting and overcoming hatred, bitterness, painful loss, war, poverty and despair.

I describe them as behaviors because faith that exists only in the heart is not true faith. Faith is proven by action. Faith is defined by the way you live your life. The same is true for love and kindness. Love is a verb, not a noun. It’s not an abstract feeling in your heart, but a matter of behavior, the way you treat people, the way you help, forgive, and show mercy to people.

Love Works Miracles in the Heart

It may be a cliche’ to speak about love changing the world. It’s not something we can envision in concrete terms. So let me bring it down to the level of one human being.

Growing up, I had a friend named Ismail. He was a few years younger than me – when I was 17 he was 14, I think – and had grown up in a dysfunctional family that had moved around constantly and had not bothered to educate the children, so that at the age of 14, Ismail was functionally illiterate.

I began tutoring Ismail and his younger brother, teaching them to read and write. I started from scratch, teaching them the alphabet and the sounds of the letters, and working up to small phonetic words. I tutored them for one hour every day, seven days a week, in the living room of their apartment. Their parents were not supportive. I was never paid. Sometimes their parents were fighting with each other at the same time I was trying to teach. At times I noticed that the two boys could not concentrate because they were hungry, so I began feeding them before our study sessions, and giving them multivitamins. Slowly they began to learn, until they could write short essays and letters on their own.

Back then I worked for the United States Geological Survey, measuring water levels at farms in the Central Valley, and taking water samples to be tested for various fertilizers and pesticides. It was hot, difficult work. I’d ride my motorcycle more than an hour to the huge corporate farms on the west side of the valley. Armed with survey maps, I would trudge across vast farms in 100 degree heat, seeking the sumps that brought up ground water for irrigation. If the farms had been recently irrigated the ground might be soft and my feet would sink into the mud with every step. Some of the sumps were a dozen feet deep or more, so in order to get a sample I had to toss a chain link ladder down into the sump, climb down, fill a test tube, and climb back out. I was very aware that if the ladder broke I could get stuck in the sump, and I might not even be missed for two or three days (no cell phones in those days). It worried me.

So I began asking Ismail to come to the farms with me. He wasn’t doing anything anyway – he was not enrolled in school because he could not function anywhere near his grade level. He’d ride on the back of the motorcycle as we passed through dusty, poverty-stricken migrant towns like Mendota and Firebaugh, sometimes swerving to avoid patches where tomatoes or oranges had fallen from farm trucks and been splattered by traffic. By the time we arrived, our helmet face shields would be crusted with dead gnats and butterflies. At the farms, Ismail would help me locate the wells, keep an eye on me while I climbed down, and then ride back with me. Sometimes on the way home I’d feel him tilting a bit and I’d realize he had fallen asleep on the motorcycle, so I’d give him a nudge with my elbow to wake him up.

Ismail was like a brother to me. I tutored him not because I wanted anything from him, but because he was like family. I loved him, though I never would have told him so. I was not raised to speak such words.

When I was twenty years old, Ismail got a scholarship to study at the Islamic University of Madinah, in Saudi Arabia. When it was time for him to leave I drove him to Los Angeles and took him to the airport. The next year was hard for him. The living environment in the university dorms at Madinah was austere, and Ismail was lonely. I used to send him letters with jokes, or stories about the people back home.

One day Ismail called collect, and as we spoke I told him to keep his head up, that we were all proud of him. Ismail’s voice became choked with emotion and he said, “I love you, Wael.” Strange as it may seem, I had never heard those words before from anyone. I was never aware that I needed to hear those words, or that they would mean anything to me, but the instant I heard them, they struck my heart like a hammer, and I found myself speechless.

I don’t know if I can explain what those words did to me. Somehow they gave meaning to all the difficulties I had been through up to that point. The failures at college, the confusion and deep loneliness, the brief bouts of homelessness. Those words seemed to crawl through my chest, sowing seeds of light and warmth. They gave me strength.

Even now, twenty five years later, I feel the impact of those words. I am still close to Ismail, though we live in different states. I call him sometimes – he told me recently that he is writing his autobiography, ma-sha-Allah – and I worry about him. I love him. And I find that the light of those words – and the sincerity behind them – is still inside me, and is one of many things that inspire and empower me. This is the miracle that love performs in the human heart.

Love Overcomes Hatred

A few years later, when I was working in Fort Worth (in my early 20’s), there was a supervisor who used to harrass me. He was abusive toward everyone, but he seemed to have a particular dislike of me. I don’t know why. Well, I had been experimenting with meditation, and had been reading a few books about spirituality. One day I decided that I would go about my day trying to see the soul within each person. With each person I met, I would look past the exterior appearance, past the external behaviors, and try to perceive the soul inside.

It may sound silly or new-agey, but I noticed a difference immediately. I was able to see things in people that I had not previously perceived. In particular I saw a lot of fear. As I was walking toward the cafeteria, I saw the abusive supervisor standing near the door. I tried to forget everything I had experienced at his hands, and look to his soul. I can’t say exactly what I saw, but as I approached him, he smiled at me. This was so unexpected and incongruous, that I didn’t know how to react and I continued on my way without response.

After that day, I noticed a change. That supervisor and I certainly did not become friends, but he stopped being hostile toward me. I cannot really explain this, except to speculate that the act of looking to a person’s soul is a form of love, just as listening deeply, without judgment, is an act of love. We are so unaccustomed in this life to people regarding us in a pure way, without judgment, without responding to our appearance or dress, without resentment for past mistakes, that when someone does it, it’s disarming. It transforms.

This is the power of love.

I’m not suggesting that all oppression in this world can be overcome with a look. There is evil in the world. There are times when we must fight to defend our lives and our families. Certain entities are immune to the power of love (the current murderous regime in Syria is not going to be overthrown with love). But even in the context of conflict, love and faith are powerful. Some Russian soldiers in Chechnya embraced Islam after being captured by the mujahideen and treated with kindness. Some soldiers in Egypt who were ordered to fire upon civilians refused to do so after being embraced or kissed by protesters.

The Prophet Muhammad (sws) himself was a reluctant warrior who disliked fighting except as a last resort. He was one of the first military leaders in history to lay down stringent rules for humane warfare, prohibiting even the killing of animals or burning of crops. He was a champion of faith, not fighting. His mission was one of compassion. The most powerful tools in his arsenal were the Quran and the testimony of “Laa ilaha il-Allah” (there is no God but Allah). That is how he changed the world.

Proof of this is that, as Wikipedia reports, “The sum total of all casualties on all sides in all the battles of Muhammad range from 1200 to 1500 dead according to the most authoritative sources.” This is outrageously low by today’s standards. We are talking about a series of defensive battles over the course of a dozen years, involving hundreds of thousands of fighters on both sides, in which all of Arabia came under the sway of Islam. But the key is that the Prophet (sws) was not fighting for wealth, or personal power, or vengeance. It is said that he never took personal revenge on any human being. He fought for truth alone, and taught his followers to do the same.

Love Defeats Bigotry

I don’t mean to portray myself as an enlightened soul. I’ve made my share of mistakes and I still struggle not to be judgmental or reactive. But I’ve also had experiences that have shown me the way forward. One was with my former sister-in-law, Crystal. I am divorced now, but I was married for ten years. Laura (my ex-wife) and her family were not Muslim, and her family had their reservations about our marriage. Her mother expressed a fear that I would kidnap our future children and take them to Egypt (even though I’ve never lived in Egypt). “Like Sally Field in ‘Not Without my Daughter'”, she said.

One day I was at a restaurant with Laura, her mother and her sister. When the waiter came to our table, he said to me, “As-salamu alaykum.” I did not know him, but I was wearing a kufi and had a beard. I replied, “Wa alaykum as-salam.” Crystal began laughing, and after the dinner was over, when we were going to the car, she began saying, “Salami, salami, baloney.”

At the time I was in a mental state where I was fed up with bigotry. I had experienced a lot of it, and I had no more patience for it. I told Crystal that her behavior was rude and bigoted. She got extremely angry, and after that I was a persona non-grata at my in-laws’ house. I was not invited to their home for any reason, and there was no communication whatsoever between me and them for more than a year. After that my mother-in-law reached out to me tentatively, and offered a makeshift apology, which I accepted. But Crystal remained angry.

Later, Laura and I moved to Panama. The place where we lived was so beautiful and peaceful, and the natives were so accepting of us, that I found my heart healing. The in-laws still didn’t quite accept me – in fact Laura’s father came to visit once and told me angrily that my religion was ridiculous and backwards – but I found that it did not bother me so much. When I returned to the USA for a visit I spoke to Crystal. I said, “I apologize for my attitude in the past. I love you and your family. You all mean a lot to me.” I said that sincerely, holding in my mind all the good I had experienced from Crystal over the years, and forgiving the bad.

From that moment on, my relationship with Crystal was transformed. She came to visit us in Panama and had a great time. After my divorce, when I returned to California, Crystal actually began attending my martial arts class. She became more open minded, began exploring religious thinking outside of the narrow Christian fundamentalist box she had always lived in. I’m not saying that any of that is because of me. But what I can attest to is that ever since I gathered the resolve to say to her, “I love you and I value you,” she has not showed a hint of bigotry or anger toward me, and in fact has become a pleasant person to relate to.

I”m afraid I may be telling a string of random stories here. I don’t know if I’m communicating this thesis I have, this understanding, that sincere love is transformational. When you can love someone without desire, expectation, or judgment, it utterly changes your relationship with that person, even with those who hate you. I believe this is the essence of faith. It is the heart of da’wah. It is the Golden Rule.

I have given examples of one-on-one interaction, but I believe that love and kindness can work their wonders just as well when it’s one to a thousand, or ten to a million, just as a single great ocean wave can flood a whole city, except that love is a good flood that washes away the fires of hatred.

Lead the Way

Do you want to see something different in the world? Show it. Do you want to see things moving in a better direction? Then get stepping and walk it, and I guarantee that others will follow, because they have seen the problems as well, and they are waiting for someone to lead the way.

Do you want to be a better Muslim, father, mother, son, daughter, sibling, or friend? Then be it. Now is the moment. The past is prologue leading to this moment.

Are you waiting for someone else to show love and kindness first? Are you waiting for someone else to be vulnerable or brave, to put himself out there, to take the first step, to show the way? There is no someone else. You are the someone else. You…  are…  someone.

Le’ts open ourselves to faith, love and kindness. Let’s change the way we move in the world, the way we behave with Allah, the way we treat people, the way we interact with every person. Let us become testaments to the power of these transformative behaviors, not through our words but through our actions. Let’s express a new sincerity from our hearts and walk through the world like believers. Let’s become people of Allah, people of Jannah (Paradise), people of imaan (faith), love and mercy.

30 Inspirational Islamic Sayings and Short Poems

Field of flowers and sun shining

Inspirational Islamic sayings by Wael Abdelgawad, Hanan Bilal, Imam Zaid Shakir and Others

By Wael Abdelgawad, Hanan Bilal, Imam Zaid Shakir and Others

1

The Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it. Whenever it is taken from something, it leaves it tarnished.” – Imam Bukhari’s Book of Muslim Manners.

2

Abdullah bin Al-Haarith said, “I didn’t see anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah (s).” – (At-Tirmithee, 3641).

3

“Allah. It all starts with Him – the universe, humanity, and our own conception – and it all comes back to Him in the end. There’s no victory without Him, no progress, no peace. Strengthen your relationship with Him in the easy times, and you will find Him beside you in the hard times.” – Wael Abdelgawad

4

“Allah (God) is an exponential word.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

5

“Keep your head up, forge forward fee-sabeel-illah, keep praying, learning, thinking, following your dreams, and loving the people in your life. It’s all worth it, it all matters and makes a difference. Every single thing you do is meaningful, even when you don’t see it. You are my brothers, my sisters, my heroes.” – Wael Abdelgawad

6

“When you’re out of ideas, that’s when faith comes in. Let Allah show you the way.” – Wael Abdelgawad

7

“No one should ever be depressed by his or her worldly situation as long as he or she is walking on the path leading to Paradise. Attaining Paradise is the great objective of this life, and the person who gains it is victorious, regardless of what he achieved in the world.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

8

Allah has a beautiful plan
for every woman and man.
Trust Allah and pray
and He will light the way.

– Wael Abdelgawad

9

“When I am feeling low and downtrodden I just find a quiet place and sit alone with my favorite book (the Quran)! When I turn each of its miraculous pages my heart begins to feel lighter and the world around me brighter! The love, warmth and security of each word sets in and it is in these very moments that I know for sure in my heart how much Allah really loves me! Alhamdulillah! Subhanallah! Allahu Akbar!” – Asmaa Deanna-Dee

10

“‘Oh, but what’s the use of trying to be a good Muslim when I end up sinning again and again?’… Well, what’s the use of bathing when you get dirty again and again? Salat (prayer) is a purifier. Though you sin again and again, keep returning to Allah for purification. Fasting is a purifier, Zakat is a purifier, Hajj is a purifier… We can use the same analogy for hope and motivation. We have to keep finding them again and again. That’s the nature of life.” – Wael Abdelgawad

11

“Try to become an embodiment of compassion and mercy in your daily life. Do not wait for a situation to occur that will call out these virtues in you. Rather, seek out opportunities where you can manifest them along with all of the other prophetic virtues. Do not live your life passively waiting to be used, roused or stimulated into action by events. Live an active life wherein you become the one who is initiating acts of goodness and kindness in all that you do. Be an embodiment of the truth you represent. Let your words and comportment convey the dignity of the believer to all that you meet.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

12

“Wash your heart every morning with salat, then warm it up with dhikr. Approach life with hope and faith. Every day do your best, Allah will do the rest.” – Wael Abdelgawad

13

“God is truly AWESOME! I see the POWER of GOD moving in MY LIFE, in my families’ lives, in the world….GOD has GREAT things in store for us. All we have to do is submit and accept GOD’s direction for our lives. I accept!” – Hanan K. Bilal

14

“I believe in Allah because He believes in me… and in you too. He made us Muslim, didn’t He? That is a gift and a blessing. So believe in His plan for you, because He believes in you, He has faith in you, He has a purpose for you.” – Wael Abdelgawad

15

“Is not the help of God close by? Certainly it is. God says “Call upon Me and I will respond.” Don’t tire on calling on Him. Don’t despair from receiving His Mercy. Despair is a sign of disbelief.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

16

“It’s okay to feel sad, anxious, lonely, frustrated, and confused. Feeling these emotions doesn’t make you less of a believer. The difference between the believer and non-believer is that the believer remains patient and turns to Allah for help.” – Wael Abdelgawad

17

“Sharpen the mind, harden the body, soften the heart, and be of service to others.” – a motto for the believer, by AbdelMalik Ali.

18

“When we’re out of ideas, surrounded by problems, and feeling totally alone… we’re not alone. Allah is with us. If we pray sincerely and strive to the best of our capacity, He will put light in our minds and hearts and help us from directions we did not expect.” – Wael Abdelgawad

19

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. Let’s all practice having a lot more love for self and others… LOVE is a verb… it’s an action in constant motion…. we are either loving or unloving… love starts at home with our family.” – Hanan Bilal

20

“If Allah brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” – Unknown author

21

“If we let Taqwa – Allah-consciousness – become our guide then it leads us to self-awareness and sincerity. A person who cultivates Taqwa can never be a terrorist, an oppressor, or a hypocrite. A person with true Taqwa must shed compassion as the sun sheds light.” – Wael Abdelgawad

22

“You will not believe until you are merciful to each other. Your faith is not complete until you are merciful to each other.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

23

“Even when we think we have nothing, we have Allah, and Allah is everything.” – Wael Abdelgawad

24

Let love be selfless
and truth fearless;
Let our breasts be flooded with light –
Make our hearts clear as crystal.

– Muhammad Iqbal

25

“One of Allah’s names is Al-Wadood, The Most Loving, and this is appropriate because a Creator must have love in order to create works of beauty and power. Allah created you out of love. He created you with intent. He created you to succeed, not to fail, and He gave you all the tools that you need to thrive. Open your eyes and see what a miracle you are, what a thing of beauty, what a gift to the world. I see that in every person I know. Do you see it in yourself?” – Wael Abdelgawad

26

“True religion shines from the face of the believer and impresses itself on others without words. It is subsequently followed by words that are uplifting and beneficial.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

27

It’s okay if you’re not free from sin;
Allah will forgive you, and let you in.
Just turn to Him, and from your soul
ask forgiveness, and make Him your goal.

– Wael Abdelgawad

28

“I asked Allah for strength and Allah gave me difficulties to make me strong. I asked Allah for wisdom and Allah gave me problems to solve. I asked Allah for courage and Allah gave me obstacles to overcome. I asked Allah for love and Allah gave me troubled people to help. I asked Allah for favors and Allah gave me opportunities. Maybe I received nothing I wanted, but I received everything I needed – Alhamdulillah.” – Anonymous

29

“Forgiveness is not for the weak. Being able to forgive those who have wronged you is a mark of spiritual strength and confidence. When you forgive, you grow, your heart begins to heal, your back straightens up, your eyes clear so that you can see the road ahead. Anger is a spiritual sickness; but when you forgive you live.” – Wael Abdelgawad

30

“You are all my family. I know that you are human and imperfect. Some are confused, some struggling, some tired, needing a moment’s rest. Tired of the rain and needing the rainbow. I love you all fee-sabeel-illah. Have no fear. Allah is with you and will not abandon you for a single heartbeat. The rainbow is coming, or maybe it’s already here and all you need to do is look up. ” – Wael Abdelgawad

If You Have an Abusive Parent, Learn to Value Yourself

Colusa County valley, California

Valley in Colusa County, California

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

It would be nice if we all had loving and supportive parents. Some do, Alhamdulillah. To have kind, caring parents is a great gift.

But some have parents who are critical, demeaning and harsh. Do you have an abusive parent who tells you that you are worthless, stupid and good for nothing? If so, you can’t spend your life waiting and hoping for that parent to love you and be proud of you. It’s not going to happen, my friend. Most likely your parent was raised harshly himself/herself and doesn’t know how to act any other way. Accept that reality and learn to value yourself, no matter what anyone says.

You will have to be strong and independent in spirit. You will have to find validation of your worth within yourself. You do have worth, after all. You are as unique and beautiful as the sun and the moon, the sea and the stars. You are special and gifted and you will need to realize that on your own, even in the face of external abuse.

Seek your support from Allah.

“And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created…” – Quran, 17:70.

Allah has honored you. Dignity is your birthright. It’s okay if you’re not perfect. No one is. You can still love yourself, with all your special gifts and funny habits, and whatever is lacking, well, you can work on it. That’s what all of us do.

“I Know Who I Am”

It can be very hard to resist the negative labels that parents put on us. Nothing wounds like an insult from a parent. Their words have a way of worming into our brains even when we know better.

We must be patient with them without buying into their negativity.

This is not to say that parental abuse is acceptable. Not at all. Respect goes both ways. Parents have a duty to raise their children with kindness and love. If your parents are physically abusing you, then that’s a situation that you should try to get out of. Separate yourself from them if possible. Be safe, and know that they too will face God one day in judgment, and will be called to account for their deeds.

This article is focused more on the issue of verbal abuse. The truth is that even if you are accomplished, well behaved, and devoted, some parents will continue to abuse you verbally. Even if you have moved out, married and have children of your own, and only see your parents occasionally, they might continue to find fault with everything you do, and generally devalue you. I’m not saying it’s okay. I’m saying it’s an unfortunate reality with some parents, and you cannot allow it to define you.

Write some positive affirmations about yourself. Affirmations are true statements that express your best qualities, and also express what kind of person you strive to be. They represent the ideal you.

I personally have a list of 29 affirmations, and here’s number 12 on my list:

“12. I am a good son to my parents. I am patient and loving with them. When speaking to them I maintain a positive, independent and calm spirit, knowing who I am and confident in my choices.”

Read your affirmations every day. Even if you don’t quite believe your own affirmations at times, even if you feel inwardly skeptical, keep reading them. When you speak to your parents, breathe deeply and slowly. Don’t let anything they say make you anxious or excited. Tell yourself silently, “I know who I am.”

Allah loves you and has a plan for you. Believe this and move forward, and when you have children, shut down the cycle of negativity and do better than your parents did. It’s okay to be better than your parents. Any good parent wants their children to surpass them.

Show your own children patience, gentleness and endless love.

May Allah bless you and fill your heart with self-knowledge, self-dignity, and hope for the future.

Fight for It

Tree growing from a rock

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Anything I have in my life, I have fought for. And yes, everything I have comes from Allah. These two statements are not mutually exclusive.

There are universal gifts that Allah gives to all. Life, the soul, the will… beyond that, nothing is assured. Breath? Some people fight to breathe. Food? Some people struggle for a bit of grain. Water? Some people walk for miles every day to get water. Health? Some people are born sick and fight for every day of life. Freedom? Millions of children are born in refugee camps.

Allah gives us opportunities. He gives us abilities, talents, gifts, and it’s up to us to make something out of them. Allah gives us guidance and truth, but if we want to follow that truth then we’ll have to fight for it, and it won’t be easy. As soon as we dedicate our lives to truth, we’ll see obstacles appearing in our paths.

I don’t mean physically fight (though that is sometimes the case). I mean strive, struggle, work hard, deal with personal attacks and naysayers, stay positive, find a way forward when the path appears to be blocked, and refuse to give up!

If you want to pursue your dreams, you’ll have to struggle. If you want (halal) love in your life, if you want something real, if you want to make something happen, well then brother and sister, you’ll have to strive with all your might. That’s how it is.

“And those who strive in Our cause, We will surely guide them to Our paths.” – Quran, Al-Ankaboot, 29:69.

 

 

We Get What We Give

Green waterfall and stream

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

We get what we give. This is one of the laws of the dunya (this earthly life) and al-ghayb (the unseen) as well. When we give money to the poor and oppressed, God rewards us with more than we can imagine. When we share truth, greater truths are revealed to us. When we teach, we learn. When we show mercy, our Creator has mercy on us. When we smile, people smile back.

The same is true for love. When we give love, love comes into our lives.

Some people think, “I will open up my love when I meet someone who loves me truly.” Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. It’s only when we open up the gates and let our love flow, that loves comes rushing in.

Quick Quotes: Compassion, Taqwa, Allah, Nature, the Heart

Drop of water on a vine

Compassion

“Hatred and bigotry are NOT the permanent conditions of man. Dictators fall and pass. War, oppression and hunger remain, but the power to change those terrible things is in our hands. Allah made us khulafaa over the earth. We have the ability to forgive, to understand, and to comfort one another. I believe that compassion is the essence of who we are. Is the best part of us, the quality that makes us worthy of the mercy of Ar-Rahman. Our love is an elemental force, a vast untapped potential. We only have to be who Allah created us to be. If we can aspire to that, and hew to it, it will suffice us and the earth itself.”

– Wael Abdelgawad

***

“Do not become proud of your position. Do not become harsh toward those weaker than yourself. And always speak of Allah’s kindness to you.” – Ibn Isaq, “The Life of Muhammad”

Taqwa

“If we let Taqwa – Allah-consciousness – become our guide then it leads us to self-awareness and sincerity. A person who cultivates Taqwa can never become a terrorist, an oppressor, a hypocrite. A person with true Taqwa must shed compassion as the sun sheds light.” – Wael Abdelgawad

Changing the World

“Sometimes I want to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world when He could do something about it; but I”m afraid He might ask me the same question.” – Anonymous

Allah

“People will love you for a short time but Allah will love you forever. People will listen to you sometimes, but Allah will listen to you all the time. People will forgive you sometimes, but Allah forgives every time.” – Anonymous

***

“You don’t need a Plan B if Plan A is for Allah.” – Bilal Int’l

Nature

I gave my Salam to the mountain
And I drank from the mountain stream
And I walked upon its surface
And it all felt like a dream
And this mountain it is a Muslim
And I feel like he’s my friend
And as I climbed on to his peak
I wished it would never end

– Hamza Robertson

The Heart

“Your heart is a mirror that reflects the world. If it’s clean, it will see the world as it really is. If it’s dirty and warped, it will see a warped vision of the world.” – Yasmin Mogahed

***

“When you get close to giving up take a step back, pray and come right back to it. You just never know who you could be inspiring out there. May Allah keep our faith strong and grant us the ability to turn back to Him and to be grateful for that ability and many more…ameen ya Rabb. This goes out to all those who inspire me.” – Fauzia Mohamed

Poem: Nothing, Only Love

Green leaves and sunlight

Nothing, Only Love

He comes to you with barbs in his skin
and blood on his cheek.
He comes with eyes of loam and gold.
He comes to you again and again,
as a youth and a man.
He has never forgotten you.

He comes with burns on his back
but standing straight,
hiding his scars and his shame,
wearing a half-thawed grin.
He has never stopped thanking you.

He comes with no answers,
with nothing, only love,
a heart like a sun,
and a soul like an African rain.
Will you open your arms to him

and hold him so tightly
that when you let go
he falls down laughing
happy to be alive,
happy to be a father and a man,

happy for you
and for the first time, years ago
that he heard your voice
like the whisper
of a summer wind?

– Wael Abdelgawad, 10-21-2011

A Witness to Your Life

Green waterfall and stream

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

When seeking a marriage partner, remember, a husband or wife is not just some pretty face that you get to admire or possess, or show off to your friends. This person is not a checkbook, a status symbol, a servant, or a household maid. This is not someone that you’ll see for a few minutes each day after work, and take to dinner parties.

You could marry someone only for looks or status then find yourself miserable, harped on, arguing every day, lonely within your marriage, or abused. All you rich and attractive people don’t take offense – you might be perfectly lovely and sweet – I’m just saying that appearance, wealth and lineage are no guarantee of happiness, and if you focus on those factors to the exclusion of the soul, then you will likely find yourself mismatched, brokenhearted and forlorn.

A spouse is someone you abide with for the rest of your life, even when you are wrinkled and bent. Someone to hold you when you’re sad, to support you when you’re tired, to cool your forehead when you’re sick, to share in your joys, tell jokes and play frisbee with; someone to pray with in the still morning hours, and struggle with to achieve Paradise.

This is someone to be a witness to your life, to know you intimately and recognize your worth as a human being (not that we need someone else to affirm our value – but it’s always nice to be recognized and seen). Someone to love you unceasingly, like a great river, even when you disagree. Someone to see your faults, and keep on loving you.

Make sure your priorities are in order. Look past the surface. Connect with the person’s soul. Find someone who will make you smile, and with whom you will be happy to share this strange journey we call life.

Let’s Love Ourselves First

Water drop on the tip of a leaf

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

We can get so caught up in trying to fix other people’s problems, that we forget to fix ourselves. We can spend all our time helping family members, running around, “sacrificing”, while our own souls are weary, discouraged and approaching despair. We can champion important causes, or do vital work in our jobs, while we cover up or ignore wounds from our past, until we cannot even look at ourselves with respect or love.

I suppose we all have our coping mechanisms. For me, it’s martial arts. When I’m troubled or unhappy, I tend to immerse myself in my martial arts practice. It occupies my mind, allows me to forget my problems, and wears out my body so I can sleep.

Others may plunge themselves into their work, or distract themselves with books, music or television, or busy themselves with other people’s problems. But you can only keep this up for so long. If you don’t face what’s going on internally, the darkness will eventually spread and blot everything else out.

We have to come to terms with ourselves, or happiness will elude us forever.

How can we love and cherish others if we do not love ourselves? How can we extend ourselves to create something good in the world, if what we have inside is not sound and peaceful? How can we raise happy children if we are not happy? Children are very perceptive; if you are troubled and hurt inside, they will pick up on that, and it will affect them. If you really want to love your children properly, you need to make peace with your own soul.

Sometimes there are so many distractions in our lives, so much external noise, that we can’t hear our own hearts anymore. We need to quiet our minds and get back in touch with our fitrah, that pure nature given to us by Allah. We need to ask Allah’s forgiveness, then forgive ourselves, so that we can get rid of the baggage of shame. Only then can we then forgive others, and let go of anger or resentment.

We must listen to our intuition, and hear our hearts speaking, and open ourselves to the clear light of Allah’s huda (guidance).

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