Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Be Thankfull This Ramadhan

If you believe that the more thankful you are then you will receive more, then this Ramadhan is a good time to fundamentally change the way we live.

The past 25 years, in the USA we have truly focused on the individual. My success, my money, my status in the economic and social structure. These excesses are a direct byproduct of a capitalistic society unfortunately.

Don't get me wrong capitalism is essential and necessary for this country to operate. I would have it no other way. But to leave it unchecked and to completely absorb our systems in it without any counterbalance is synonymous to letting your animal instincts run wild without the human intellect and moral barriers.

This is precisely what has happened to us as a country in the past 25 years. We let our capitalistic instincts, which is engrained in the DNA of this country, run wild. The rich got richer and the poor and economically disdvantaged were getting worse. Our healthcare, our economy, our morals and the very fundamentals of our society that governed our founding fathers went unchecked. The focus was on the all mighty dollar - more and more! No amount was enough! No time to be thankfull and stop and ponder if any good was coming out of this endless greed. Towards the last five years, anything went for the million dollar bonuses, the bigger houses and the endless excess. Leveraged, over extended, no plan to exit - who cares, as long as I got mine!

This excess prooved to be fatal like it always does. We were not thankfull of what we got and instead revelled in the bounty only to be filled with greed to want more and more. We became shallow in our deep appreciation of the country, system and platforms that made all this possible. Our founding fathers would have been disgusted in seeing the endless scratching and clawing of the ascent of greedy money.

Being thankfull and stopping every so often is a must. This Ramadhan, I am making it a point to everyday stop and ponder at the endless bounties that I receive. Think about what can I do with the many resources I have been given which will better myself, my family, my friends, my neighbors and my country. A reflection of this kind on a daily basis provides the moral foundation to take a healthy next step everyday. It gives the timeout our capitalistic instincts needs to make good positive decisions. It forces moderation and hence fuels more bounties to be had because the decisions made are selfless not selfish.

As a nation I am urging my friends, family and fellow citizens this auspicious month of Ramadhan to think about the endless bounties and search to see if we can find it in our hearts to find solutions to difficult problems like healthcare, war in Iraq and the economic disasters created by the endless greed. Can we dig deep and consider those that cannot have healthcare to say, yes we have gotten enough it is time to restructure and provide the umbrella that we all deserve? Can we look at Iraq and say, yes this was a genuine error and that it is time to listen to the voices of pain and provide solutions to the region than missiles. And finally, are we going to look around and consider the end to the endless consumerism that yielded in a complete financial disaster that may take our kids to pay off?

What can be wrong with being more thankful everyday and stopping everytime to consider of others before you buy for yourself. Are we ready to trascend to the next stage of our social evolution of a society that claims endless greed to a society that looks outwards. A society that is willing to harness the power of capitalism and feed it back in betterment of each other?

I believe starting with a simple gesture where in the morning spend 5-10 minutes during Sehri (breakfast before sunrise) right before you start that meal, reflect and be thankful that you woke up today with all these bounties to see another day, healthy and full of life in a country like the USA. Be thankful for 10 minutes and then see if it changes your perspective the rest of the day and inshallah the rest of your life.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Arrival of an Esteemed Guest Ramadhan - Sherulla-E-Moazzam

Ramadhan arrives like a guest, an esteemed guest. Families prepare to receive the guest in many ways. Houses get cleaned, talk of fasting and prayers are abound, preparation to go to Masjid everyday is arranged and generally the whole tempo of daily life is about to change. This year the esteemed guest Ramadhan arrives to the US with much trouble still looming. The year has been tumultuous and unprecendented. Economic challenges along with general instability and uncertainty has turned many lives upside down.
So having a guest like Ramadhan arrive, how should we prepare? What can we do to bring such a noble arrival its due respect while we struggle to make ends meet?
This year for me personally will be a unique Ramadhan. Three years ago I started a small business. After going through the challenges of a startup, I continue to now struggle to make this small business profitable. The economic challenges that started 12 months ago have not made it easy. But the arrival of Ramadhan helps break the monotony of fighting this battle everyday and it gives an opportunity to stop and reflect.
Everyday, I will be at the Masjid meeting friends, family and others. An air of sharing and feeling part of community will envelope my thoughts. The daily prayers at the Masjid will allow me to bond with my friends and the spiritual. The daily fasting will reduce my needs for worldly and materialistic possessions and give me an oppportunity to thank for what I have. This Ramadhan will be unique because our small community in Houston will start its journey to renew our Masjid complex with a new Multipurpous hall, a new Madresah and eventually a new Masjid to accomodate the exploding membership to our Masjid. I have been blessed to be appointed to serve in the construction committee and the start date of this project has been coincided with the beginning of Ramadhan.
As a nation, we are blessed in so many ways. But this year we start Ramadhan with some very lofty challenges. Healthcare reform, economic uncertainty and wars that seem to never end. A trifecta of challenges this big seem rare in American History but not unprecendented. Ramadhan will be a good month for every muslim living in this great nation to reflect the many bounties that our nation has given us and renew the promise to it by re-dedicating our efforts to help bring solutions to these massive problems. I urge every muslim to dig deep, gain strength from the month of Ramadhan and resolve to work towards helping our nation resolve these challenges.
Whether you agree or disagree with either party, I believe all of us can agree that Healthcare needs to change. We are getting crippled by this issue as greed has crushed the very purpose of the system - to bring the best healthcare to everyone. Economically, we struggle because the last 20 years all of us were swimming in excess - we thought we could buy hapiness by overspending and over leverging. Ramadhan will help us reflect and say thanks for what we have. Return to modesty, sharing and community service. Look at those below you and thank for what you have today. We were violently reminded that money is like dirt on your hands. It can be washed away in seconds! Its the glutony of the past 20 years that has caused this issue and all of us somehow contributed to it. Let us remind oursleves of this excess and resolve in Ramadhan to change and solve the problem for our posterity.
And finally the huburous of our past 10 years along with a tragic reaction to the dispicable act of 9/11 has brought us today to confront a seemingly endless war. Thousands of our citizens who bravely follow orders of our leaders are now fighting an endless battle in multiple fronts. What can we learn from Ramadhan to help solve this problem? For one humility and servitude should help us. Let's gain strength to forgive and understand what is around on the other side and gently help guide our fellow man to a world of understanding. Yes realistically peace may not be realized, but calmness and stability is achievable. Let us not continue our display of strength with power but rather show the power of our example of living in harmony. To those who say USA is their enemy, I call on them to stop and look around and see whether Ramadhan as guest in their house agrees to their actions. To our citizens who think we will "change" the others to think like we do - to them I say let us reflect on ourselves and ask are we right to think our way is the only way.
I believe this Ramadhan will help us all reflect deeper, feel more and achieve more - just invite the guest in and let it be your guide. Ramadhan Mubarak to all. May Allah Bless us this month and may He bless this nation of ours in this great month with wisdom, charity and the fruits of freedom.