Monday, February 20, 2017

Seek to Create Permanent Value

On February 6th, during our regular meeting in the NYC, we discussed Chapter 46 from the Quran and the Life of Excellence.  Our discussion is based on the following ayas:

Sura 17, Ayas 18-21

If anyone seeks transitory things, We hasten to him what We will of them, to whom We wish:  then We bring him hell where he is miserable and unwanted.

And if anyone seeks for the future and strives for it, as it should be striven for, and has faith, his effort is greatly appreciated. 

To everyone We give, to this one and that one, from the gifts of your Lord; and the gifts of your Lord  are not restricted.

See how We make some of them excel over others; but the hereafter is of higher order and greater in merit.  

These ayas are looking to remind us, as the entire Quran is looking to do, that the work we do, whatever it is, and the thoughts we think, whatever they may be, will, in time, bring a net result.  We are continuously asked by God to reflect upon our lives, that is, to examine our thoughts regularly as well as what we do every day. We are asked to choose to do good works and focus our minds on what will bring about those good works. 

We can see why these constant reminders by God are needed because we don’t often realize how quickly time moves while we are looking to get through our days here.  Eventually, this should not be an additional something we need to add to the list of tasks for the day. If we are serious about living a life worthy of God’s attention, it will become a consistent and faithful practice of ours, just like living a life of faith needs to be the only life we should eventually be leading and striving for as we look to gain proper understanding of God’s message -- that being the purpose of our asking for His guidance every day. 

And it all starts with our reflecting and thinking regularly about who we are and what we are looking to achieve while here.  By now, we should probably understand that it is not about earning a livelihood and raising children which, in and of themselves, are good works. But not thinking about how to transform our own lives and make a difference in the lives of our children as well as those around us, that is, not thinking about how we can become the best human beings we can become -- through whatever work we do daily -- and propel ourselves higher in God’s estimation, is missing the mark.

It is not easy but God reminds us, again and again, that those whose minds’ eyes are fixed on becoming the best versions of themselves will never be the same as those who seek for things that mean very little and will pass away as they pass away.

Commentary/Summary by Alma Subasic

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Think Carefully About What You Wish For

On January 9th 20017, during our regular meeting in NYC, we discussed Chapter 44 from The Quran and the Life of Excellence.  Our discussion was based on the following excerpts\ from the Quran:

Sura 17 Aya 11                                                                                                             

People ask for things that are bad as if they were asking for something good, for people are prone to be hasty./People pray for things that are bad as if they were praying for something good, for people are prone to be hasty.

Man is a creature of haste (21:37)

These words tell us what God is seeing among people and is asking us to think things through before asking for something.  This clearly addresses what God is repeatedly emphasizing throughout the Quran, which is that we need to take heed and reflect on what we are doing because neither a prayer without conscious belief nor an unexamined life will get us what we are hoping for and feel we are entitled to because, in our mind, we follow God’s precepts to the best of our ability.  Only, and we can clearly say, only a life that incorporates our having consciously striven to understand what God is looking to teach us through our own unique difficulties and lenses will, with patient perseverance and holding on to His rope at difficult moments, in time, lead us to the right kind of understanding, increased faith, and a life truly lived in service to Him and through that, in service to the humanity. 

To bring this closer to each of our lives, what is important to understand here is that we cannot assume that the self-evaluation and a plan made at the age of 20 is the same as at the age of 40.  Because each one of us is unique, we each have a unique combination of skills meant to produce a specific result for this world.  The wise thing to do is to reflect as much as possible but to also ask for an advice from people whose opinions we value at that stage in our lives.  If we think deeply about that, it is very possible that each of us will be able to come up with one such person. I say this because by reading this chapter, we may be quick to say to ourselves that it is of course true that when we make any plan, those who have thought about it, benefit. But life isn’t very clear for a good number of us depending upon our life experiences leading up to the time when we have to make any decision.  We constantly make decisions that are based on incomplete and sometimes conflicting information, to which we must add the time variable that we feel is pressing on us. Oftentimes, decisions are made for us. The idea is to incorporate within ourselves the notion that with God’s help we will continue to adjust and will continue to keep growing from each and every experience and through all of that to understand God’s work and wisdom behind it all --  that however painful and uncomfortable it currently is or has been, that each and every experience/amount of burden was measured out/calculated to help us eventually reach a better and more peaceful state in this life as well as the next.

 Summary/Commentary by Alma Subasic

Prophet Abraham as a Role Model

On December 12th, 2016 during our regular meetings in the New York City, we discussed Chapter 42 of The Quran and The Life of Excellence, which is based on the following ayas:

Sura 16, Ayas 120-123:

Abraham was indeed a role model, obedient to God, true in faith, and he joined not gods with God.

He was grateful for the favors of God; He selected him and guided him to a straight path.

And We gave him the best in the world, and in the hereafter, he will be among the worthy.

So We have taught you this inspired message, “Follow the way of Abraham the true in faith, and he joined not gods with God.”

These ayas are teaching us the most important lessons we need to internalize in order to reach the goal every believer is looking to reach:  that of being rightly guided. 

God is telling us not to join gods with Him.  Looking at our lives today, we need to be careful about allowing influences of this world to overwhelm us.  We need to examine our lives and look to avoid giving people around us, our family, our jobs, and our bosses power over us. 

These ayas also teach us whom God guides:  those who are grateful to Him.  This means that it is of utmost importance that we spend some time every day expressing our gratitude to God.  But before we can express that gratitude, it is important to think about what we are grateful for.  If we truly focus our attention on the many favors God has granted us, we will begin to see that we really have so much to be thankful for as we begin to realize that we cannot move one step nor think a single thought without so many things coming together within our bodies to make it so.  Consistent and regular thanks will, in time, help us reach our goal of being rightly guided. That was God’s promise to us.   

Our prophet Abraham was one of those who was rightly guided and when God describes him to us to give us a true example to follow, He doesn’t tell us what Abraham looked like or where he lived or what he did for a living because none of those things matter when it comes to living a life worthy of God’s attention.  Therefore, the idea is to understand the principle of what makes one a role model as opposed to copying the role model’s external behavior.  The copying of the prophet’s external behavior limits us because we live in a different time and place. 

Summary by Alma Subasic