Friday, May 24, 2019

The True Meaning of Abstinence in Ramzan

Two Hadith illustrate the true spirit of Ramzan, the month of fasting. The Prophet forbade believers from engaging in uninterrupted fasting (Sahih Muslim). He also said, ‘Beware of continuous fast. Beware of continuous fast.’ (Al Muwatta)
The focus of this month is to train the believer. It is not to accumulate rewards by increasing the number of fasts observed, because if that were the case, the Prophet of Islam would not have discouraged continuous fasting. The purpose of fasting is rather, to be an annual refresher course, for training the mind of the believer, so that he may become a spiritual member of society.
Ramzan is considered a month of restraint when an adherent of Islam strives to foster good wishes and care for humankind and develop piety in himself. The Prophet once exclaimed, “It is not good for a man upon whom Ramzan enters and then passes, before he was purified.” (At-Tirmidhi). This purification becomes internalised for a whole lifetime as the believer undergoes ‘training’ fast for a specified period of time during Ramzan.
Abstinence from food and water is a symbolic act. It, in effect, represents a resolve that, just as we relinquish food and water for a month, we shall henceforth, similarly abstain forever from any practice deemed as spiritually undesirable. While the ‘training’ fast lasts for a month, the ‘real’ fast continues for a lifetime. The meaning of the real fast is to give up negativity, malice and hatred for life. We must refrain from feeling offended by, and vengeful and negative towards fellow human beings.
The actual focus of Ramzan is to train the mind of the believer on spiritual principles which can be applied in everyday life. While the Prophet of Islam referred to fasting as a short-term symbolic activity, he did not say this of acts that call for ridding one’s mind of negative thinking, refraining from anger, and so on. All such forms of restraint are to be eternally observed.
According to a Hadith, a person once asked the Prophet of Islam for a master advice. The Prophet replied, “Do not be angry!” (Al Bukhari). The Prophet certainly encouraged leaving off anger for one’s lifetime, just like other negative compulsions, such as hatred, revenge and malice. Shunning these evils is an act of ‘fasting’ and this must last an entire lifetime.
Observing fasts during Ramzan, bearing in mind all of the above, is akin to revolutionising one’s life to the point of consciously undertaking a renewed spiritual journey. The Quran alludes to this: “Colour yourself in the hue of God!” (2:138). Spirituality and positive thinking are the hues of God. During Ramzan, man imbibes the desired spiritual principles, which he is subsequently expected to observe in his personal, societal and national affairs for the rest of his life.
For a believer, Ramzan is a process of rejuvenation, with the power to become a guide for life – teaching him to abstain from all that is negative and violent and to adopt that which is peaceful and positive. One who has observed the fasts of Ramzan in their true spirit can count on being able to draw upon the reservoir of resilience he has built up and the power of patience and gratitude inculcated in him, which will stand by him whenever he is faced with any kind of adversity.

Sunday, March 10, 2019


Baat se baat ki gehraai chali jaati hai 
jhooth aa jaaye toh sachchaai chali jaati hai.
Raat bhar jaagte rahne ka amal theek nahin 
chaand ke ishq mein binaai chali jaati hai.
Maine is shehar ko dekha bhi nahin jee bhar ke 
aur tabiyat hai ki ghabraai chali jaati hai.
Kuchh dinon ke liye manzar se agar hat jaao 
zindagi bhar ki shanasaai chali jaati hai.
Pyaar ke geet hawaaon mein sune jaate hain 
daF bajaati hui ruswaai chali jaati hai.
Chhap se girti hai koi cheez ruke paani mein 
door tak phaTti hui kaai chali jaati hai.
Mast karti hai mujhe apne lahoo ki khushboo 
zakhm sab khol ke purvaai chali jaati hai.
Dar-o deewaar pe chehre se ubhar aate hain 
jism banti hui tanhaai chali jaati hai. !!
बात से बात की गहराई चली जाती है
झूठ जाए तो सच्चाई चली जाती है।

रात भर जागते रहने का अमल ठीक नहीं
चाँद के इश्क़ में बीनाई चली जाती है।

मैंने इस शहर को देखा भी नहीं जी भर के
और तबीयत है कि घबराई चली जाती है।

कुछ दिनों के लिए मंज़र से अगर हट जाओ
ज़िंदगी भर की शनासाई चली जाती है।

प्यार के गीत हवाओं में सुने जाते हैं
दफ़ बजाती हुई रूस्वाई चली जाती है।

छप से गिरती है कोई चीज़ रूके पानी में
दूर तक फटती हुई काई चली जाती है।

मस्त करती है मुझे अपने लहू की खुश्बू
ज़ख़्म सब खोल के पुरवाई चली जाती है।

दर- दीवार पे चेहरे से उभर आते हैं
जिस्म बनती हुई तन्हाई चली जाती है।।

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Secret of Happiness

Here's what philosophers discovered about the secret of happiness.
Bertrand Russell
"Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness."
It's out of character for someone like Bertrand Russell, a lover of mathematics, science, and logic, to dabble in something so negotiable as happiness. 
But his idea that happiness can be found in the surrender to visceral feelings of love rings true — and contemporary science seems to be on his side.
Friedrich Nietzsche
"Happiness is the feeling that power increases - that resistance is being overcome."
For Nietzsche, the famous mustachioed nihilist, happiness is a kind of control one has over their surroundings.
The German philosopher wrote frequently on the impacts that power (and a lack of power) can have on people's lived experiences. When people resist, they take back their agency. That sense of self can then turn into happiness.
John Stuart Mill
"I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy tem."
John Stuart Mill was a titan of liberalism, perhaps its most important figure in history. He spread the gospel of liberty wherever he could.
When it came to happiness, he adopted the wisdom of the ancient Greeks. Instead of inundating his life with goods, Mill believed in utilitarianism. He believed in using things for a purpose, and if they served no purpose, he banished them from his life.
"The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less."
For Socrates, one of the greatest ancient thinkers, happiness doesn't come from external rewards or accolades. It comes from the private, internal success people bestow upon themselves. 
By paring down our needs, we can learn to appreciate simpler pleasures.
"The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large."
Confucius' sentiment about happiness has echoed through history in books such as "The Power of Positive Thinking" and recent research in cognitive behavioural therapy, which seeks to help people see the connections between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
According to a Confucian mindset, happiness is a self-fulfilling prophecy that replicates itself the more we find reasons for its existence.
"The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not."
Beloved by contemporary philosophy nerds like the investor Nassim Taleb and marketing whiz Ryan Holiday, the Stoic philosopher firmly believed in what psychologists would now call the "locus of control."
For some people, the locus lives externally. They feel like outside forces guide their actions. For others (in Seneca's mind, the happy ones), the locus lives within. 
Lao Tzu
"If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present."
Translated simply as "Old Man," nobody is quite sure who Lao Tzu really was. But the figure's wisdom on living in the moment has transcended millennia.
And psychologists uphold its benefits.
Some research suggests people report the greatest happiness when they are engaged in things that require their full and present attention: good conversation, creative tasks, or sex.
Soren Kierkegaard
"Life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced."
Before there was the stellar mash-up Twitter account Kim Kierkegaardashian, there was the Danish philosopher who inspired it. 
Kierkegaard was of the mind that happiness comes from being present in the moment and enjoying the ride. Once we stop turning our circumstances into problems and start thinking of them as experiences, we can derive satisfaction from them.
Henry David Thoreau
"Happiness is lke a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder." 
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the transcendentalist author and advocate for civil disobedience took a passive approach to happiness.
As he detailed in "Walden," Thoreau preferred to break convention. He avoided habit. Perhaps through the commitment to randomness, he thought, he could find some larger, more cosmic sense of happiness. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Prophet as a Social Activist

The deeds of the Prophet, even before that time, were in accordance with his noble character and the teachings which he later received. One of the major aims of his career was social reform. Even before Islam, the rite of Haj was observed at the Kaaba, and war was forbidden in that sacred month. Once when this ban was violated and a visiting tribe’s members were looted and their local protector killed, a war broke out.
The war ended according to an agreement known as the Hilf-al-Fudul. According to M. Akhtar Muslim, in Quran aur Insani Huquq (‘The Quran and human rights’), around the year 586 CE, another trader visiting Makkah was deprived of his goods without being paid. He cried out for help. With regard to this, Dr M. Hamidullah writes in Muhammad Rasulullah (‘Muhammad the Prophet of Allah’) that Al-Zubair, the head of the Prophet’s family, convened a meeting. In this meeting, in which the Prophet took part as a young man, it was decided to bring a group into action under the revived Hilf-al-Fudul.
According to some scholars ‘fadal’ also means ‘right’, the plural of which is ‘fudul’. Therefore, one of the meanings of this could be, ‘the agreement for the protection of rights’. The group’s activists pledged to come to the help of anyone who had been wronged in Makkah, without discrimination, to favour the weak and downtrodden against their powerful persecutors. The tribes of Taim, Zuhra, Muttalib and Hashim took the oath for this agreement.
The important objectives and clauses of the Hilf-al-Fudul were as follows: lawlessness would be done away with; security of the travellers and newcomers would be ensured; victims of cruelty would be helped regardless of whether they were residents of Makkah or visitors; and the powerful persecutors would be stopped from being unjust to the weak. Dr M. Hamidullah in Rasul-i-Akram ki Siyasi Zindagi (‘The political life of the Prophet’) describes the oath as: “We swear by God that we will together become one (strong) hand. This hand will remain by the side of the weak and will continue to be raised against the strong and the unjust until the persecutor returns to the persecuted his right. This will remain so until the sea keeps the seashells wet and the hills of Hira and Thabir remain in their place. There will be equity in our society.”
The last sentence can mean that even the most humble of citizens would be able to challenge and demand redress from the most powerful. Only a handful of tribes participated in the Hilf-al-Fudul, yet it was a revolutionary agreement, the fundamental principle being non-alliance. Previously, all help had been given on the basis of tribes and the pacts made with them.
In this pact, it had been agreed that anyone and everyone who had been wronged, could ask for help. They went so far as to say that even those strangers and travellers who belonged neither to Makkah nor to any of its tribes would be eligible for help.
Previously, travellers were an open target for persecution. Not only were they robbed, but often their wives and daughters were taken away from them forcibly.
Another reason for its being a revolutionary agreement was that the Hilf-al-Fudul was not based on social class. Anyone who had been wronged, whether he was a free person or a slave, rich or poor, was eligible for help. Through this agreement, to a large extent Makkah became safe for the weak, the persecuted and strangers. The activists, acting with great speed, saw to it that the person who had been wronged was given back all that had been taken away from him forcibly.
Very soon, powerful thugs, including Abu Jahal, started to fear reprisal from the activists. The Makkans can be truly proud of the fact that at the time when the whole world was steeped in darkness and injustice, these conscientious activists were able to provide free protection and justice to the weak and the helpless through their humanistic ideals. In trying to create some kind of law and order in Makkah, the activists of the Hilf-al-Fudul were really helping to formulate some laws based on the concept of modern-day human rights. Dr M. Hamidullah says that the law of Islam in its early phase was the customary law of Makkah until such time as parts of it were specifically amended or abrogated. The principles of the Hilf-al-Fudul can safely be said to be a part of the law of Islam.
Even though many of the participants of the agreement remained non-Muslim, the Prophet kept acting on it after his declaration of Islam. He is reported to have said later: “Even if red camels were given to me in exchange for the Hilf-al-Fudul, I would not accept them.” This agreement can also be looked upon as the beginning of the attempt to codify laws and enforce a policing system with the objective of establishing peace and equity through practical social activism.
The pact also gives Muslims a precedent for the moral responsibility of all citizens to protect the weak and to speak for them, to critique the rulers and the powerful and the concept of establishing citizens’ groups that advocate and lobby for social rights.