February 14-”Love” by Tariq Ramadan

All spiritualities highlight the ambivalence and ambiguity of love; its different natures and its two faces. Love is an initiatory school in which we learn to make progress, to rise above ourselves and then to free ourselves, but it can also be a prison in which we are bound by more and more chains. We go under, get lost and eventually become totally dependent.

The universal teachings of spiritualities, philosophies and all religions are in agreement about this, and proffer the same truths: in love, the individual rediscovers what he or she went there to look for, because love is a mirror as well as a revelation. Because he is under the sway of his emotions and his need to possess, his love will always turn against him and cause him the sufferings of dissatisfaction and a chained heart. Imbued with spirituality and mastery, his love will take him out of the self and enable him to attain fulfilment and self-giving.

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September 23-”Human Suffering” by Keith Beason

2Direct experience of the harsh and impersonal nature of the universe leads to a unique understanding of reality that sets a person above and beyond the comparatively shallow belief systems and illusionary hopes of the mass of humanity (the herd).

For the herd, suffering is an affliction upon humanity either wrought as judgement by higher forces or as part of our “pitiful lot in life.”

For Nietzsche, however, suffering is an opportunity. It challenges us as individuals to discover previously unfathomed strength within ourselves. It is the well-spring of greater human existence.

He writes in “Beyond Good and Evil” that: “The discipline of suffering, of great suffering – do you not know that only this discipline has created all enhancements of man so far? That tension of the soul in unhappiness which cultivates its strength, its shudders face to face with great ruin, its inventiveness and courage in enduring, preserving, interpreting, and exploiting suffering, and whatever has been granted to it of profundity, secret, mask, spirit, cunning, greatness – was it not granted to it through suffering, through the discipline of great suffering?”

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September 3-”Alone with the Alone” by Muna Ali

alone-cover11Surrounded as we are with loved ones

with husbands and wives, children and parents, friends and family

we are alone…with the self.

Busying ourselves as we may,

to avoid solitude,

to face the doubts, the fears, the failures

the half-healed wounds and half-told truths…

sooner or later,

we are alone…with self

Is our inner life an island inhabited by one?

a primordial longing, an inherent design?

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The Month of Meaning

by Tariq Ramadan, September 8, 2009

1291559-1-vision-and-darkness-versevisions-art-genesis-15-12Most of the classical religious teachings regarding the month of Ramadan insist on the rules being respected as well as the deep spiritual dimension of this month of fast, privations, worship and meditation. While thinking about it more closely, one realizes that this month marries apparently contradictory requirements which, nevertheless, together constitute the universe of faith.

To ponder over these different dimensions is the responsibility of each conscience, each woman, each man and each community of faith, wherever they are. We can never emphasise enough the importance of this “return to oneself” required during this period of fast.

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“Illiteracy, Super-Wealth, and Islam”

by Nae Ismail, July 10, 2009

Muslimp3.1“Putting it into perspective, Muslims (those who believe) need unshakable faith like ING Direct savings account depositors in cyberspace banking.”

The Holy Quran ordered Iqra-aq (read). To read is to learn. So Muslims must obey to learn diligently to be informed. The rich must facilitate the poor with same chance.

Muslims today represent 20% of global population, and Muslim nations combined supply 90 % of oil output. So, it is reasonable to expect the glory of Islam be reflected in literary output, arts & science, technological achievement, high living standards, contribution to humanity and social ranking among our peers in similar proportions. Not even close! The tragic truth is below 3 %. Embarrassment and humiliation do not describe our pathetic situation. Academically, scientifically, politically, medically, societally, and industrially non-Muslims consistently occupy the upper strata while our brothers and sisters grovel in dirt literally and are looking up from below with despair and envy crying for opportunity.

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Humans are contesting creatures

By Nadine Miville, July 7, 2009

humans2Humans are contesting creatures. We fight all orders, commands and guidance as it comes for our benefit.

God has given us a mind to choose freely, to think and to question, yet our primary way of response to this blessing is dispute. When we are commanded to submit our beings to Allah the Lord of the Universe we ask why? When the answer is given, because He has created you so as to worship Him, we again ask, why? When the response is given, so that we may know Him, we refuse submission and our relationship with Him is suspended.Who in this life is able to live without knowing Him? Allah almighty, rabbul alamin.

In our superficial understanding of this life, we constantly look for approval from the outside world, we look for acceptance, we are needy creatures by design. But our neediness is misunderstood in the life of this world. I know this first hand. My life was one of neediness, great neediness I confess to this. However, it may not need be a confession because it is an innate response to our Creator, rabbul alamin, ar rahman ir rahim, albeit misplaced.

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”Forgiveness: an act of self love”

by Richard Haney, July 4, 2009

forgivennes7Forgiveness is one of the quintessential linchpins for a happy, healthy and integrated personality. The vast majority of people do not even know the meaning of the word forgiveness. It means literally to be “for giving” something away. It is an act one does with oneself…not with another. One person cannot forgive another! That is the other person’s task. Obviously it is very difficult to give up a long held, deeply imbedded emotion such as fear, anger or revenge, etc. Usually the emotion is entangled and ensnared in all sorts of justifications, excuses, defenses, habits, addictions, etc. The pathway to love is forgiveness. Forgiveness dissolves resentments and jealousies, etc. Reluctance to let go of fear keeps people “stuck”, alienated from experiencing the present moment, and fully living life. If we learn to continually practice forgiveness we see each other and ourselves as blameless. Forgiveness is a powerful tool in our struggle to transcend “the blame and shame game”.

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”The Night Journey, Al-Isra Al-Miraj”

by Muhammad Asad, June 19, 2009


The Prophet’s Journey” (isra’) from Mecca to Jerusalem and his subsequent “Ascension” (mi’raj) to heaven are, in reality, two stages of one mystic experience, dating almost exactly one year before the exodus to Medina (cf. Ibn Sa’d I/1, 143).

According to various well-documented Traditions – extensively quoted and discussed by Ibn Kathir in his commentary on 17:1, as well as by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari VII, 155 ff. – the Apostle of God, accompanied by the Angel Gabriel, found himself transported by night to the site of Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem, where he led a congregation of many of the earlier, long since deceased prophets in prayer; some of them he afterwards encountered again in heaven.

The Ascension, in particular, is important from the viewpoint of Muslim theology inasmuch as it was in the course of this experience that the five daily prayers were explicitly instituted, by God’s ordinance, as an integral part of the Islamic Faith.

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”Fatherhood in Islam”

by Tariq Ramadan, June 19, 2009


It is important for Muslims to have a discussion about fatherhood while keeping in mind the ever-fragile state of Muslim families. We need to re-assess the language we use and the ontological assumptions we make when we speak about the role of the father because often, the problem doesn’t just lie with the crisis but the way we deal with it.

Muslims naturally feel inclined to place the mother at the centre of the process of raising children, unwittingly ignoring the father’s role. Islamic tradition does stress the role of the mother. For example, when asked who a Muslim should love most, the Prophet Muhammad said, “Your mother, your mother, your mother and then your father.” It is also said that paradise lies at the feet of the mother. As a result, we tend to focus on the father as an individual, not as someone who should and can play a central role within his family.

When we assess issues from an Islamic perspective, we categorise everything according to “rights” and “duties”. We speak of the rights of the man, the rights of the woman, the duties of the man, the duties of the woman. This mentality is dangerous. It reduces issues to black and white, right and wrong absolutes. This approach is more prevalent than we realise. We must take from all the human sciences that can deal with family problems.

Another problem in our approach is the idealism. We speak about an idealised past and idealised families which have nothing to do with reality, whether it be now or the history of our ancestors. Muslims must realise we may be Muslims but we live in Western societies and therefore, face the same problems as other families.

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”Our Imam Problem”

by Muneeb Nasir, May 15, 2009

imam-problemThe Canadian Muslim community continues to agonize over their religious leaders.
In a recent study done by Karim H. Karim for the Institute for Research on Public Policy, he found that Muslims in Canada and other Western countries “seek religious leadership that can guide them as they navigate spiritual and worldly matters in a knowledgeable and insightful manner. They expect their imam to have not only an intellectually sophisticated understanding of Islamic sources but also a keen appreciation of the Western contexts in which they are living.”

Very recently, the congregation of the main mosque in Ottawa, the Ottawa Muslim Association, has been caught up in a debate around such issues as a result of the choice of a new Imam.
The Imam, who was brought in from Al Azhar University in Egypt, is being criticized by segments of the community for his communication skills, his lack of experience and familiarity with Canadian social conditions.

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”My memories of Imam Jamil Al-Amin”

by Abdul Malik, April 30, 2009

imam_jamil“Is there anything I can do for you? Do you need something?” asked the calm, serious, bespectacled Imam, who towered above me in height at about 6.5 feet.
The last time I met Imam Jamil al-Amin was when I was in Washington, DC on behalf of the Kosova Task force, USA. A Masjid was trying to raise funds for Kosova. I found Imam Jamil sitting there. That’s when he asked me this question.
When I think back to all of my meetings with Imam Jamil, I remember him asking me the same question.
It was not just me. He asked everyone he worked with. He was always looking for ways to help people. A regular speaker at almost all Islamic conferences, I shared the stage with him many times. Not anymore though. All those who used to invite him seem to have forgotten about him.
Be mindful of Allah not fearful of the FBI
If the secret evidence law, cases against Muslim leaders and organizations, and a Grand Jury investigation of The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), etc are designed to intimidate Muslims then they are working.

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