Saturday, April 30, 2016

Chapter 33; What Do You Believe?, Part 2

Chapter 33; What Do You Believe?, Part 2

On April 18th, we again discussed Chapter 33 from Dr. Abdulhameed's book, "The Quran and the Life of Excellence" and those present were reacting to the below quoted Surah that inspired Chapter 33 by Dr. Abdulhameed. The summary of that chapter was provided in Part 1 on April 11th.
Those who ascribe divinity to other than God say: “Had God so willed we would not have served anything other than Him – neither we nor our forefathers; nor would we have forbidden anything without His sanction.”
Thus also said those who went before them. Yet what is the mission of messengers except to communicate clearly.
During our second discourse on this Surah and the chapter, we said that if we wanted to grow spiritually, we had to think. The trouble is, as we all know, that if we repeat things over and over and never ask questions, there can be no change in our spiritual development. What we attract is what we receive. If we sit down and quiet ourselves and think deeply about ways in which we have been helped, we will keep finding how we have been helped. Over the years, that becomes a deeply held belief in us -- that we truly have been and by consequence, will continue to be helped. That will lead us to fully realize that God is truly compassionate and merciful.
This is a call to reform and improve one's view of God. The society influences our belief and it is extremely hard to break away from that environment but we are responsible for actions that we take and where we end up. Other people are not responsible for our lives. There is a strong social pressure on young Muslims to subscribe to what their ancestors did and said and no deviation is allowed. That promotes conformity and stifles creativity and individual progress. All spiritual and social progress that is taking place in Muslim countries now is actually a result of Western cultural influences which Muslims decry.
We are looking for conformity no matter where we are so that we feel that we fit in. Conformity happens because we want to avoid criticism. If we want to grow as a person, we need to do what is difficult. People here in the United States always tell us not to live in our comfort zone.
A very high priority in our lives is to be in a group of people who are helping us grow. We need to seek company of people who love us for who we are and who help us grow. One Islamic teaching not shared in Muslim countries very often is that Imam Ali said that when children are under the age of 7, parents should play with them. When children are under the age of 14, parents should teach them and when children are over the age of 14, parents should be friends to them. Another fact that is also not shared in Muslim countries very often is that Prophet Muhammad used to spend a portion of his day every day by himself in introspection and in self-evaluation. Islam of today, for the most part, as judged by the behavior of many Muslims, is reduced to mindless repetition. We cannot then expect much progress no matter how much we want it. Each of us will have to go through a considerable process of serious self-evaluation in order to change what is inside of ourselves before God changes our condition. We will all agree that this is exactly what God Himself told us.

The exercise for this chapter states:
1) Is there an experience or an aspect of your life that shows that God is helping you?
2) Consider a prohibition that your parents believed in but you have discarded it. What are the reasons for this change?
The benefit from doing these exercises increases greatly if you not only think about them but also write down your responses. It is very useful to keep a journal for this purpose. Reading what you wrote over a period of time will make you aware of the insights you have gained.
Summary by Alma Subasic

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