99 Names – 99 Deities #2

– Communal harmony in present day India is under threat with a series of lynchings carried out by so called Hindu Cow vigilantes on innocent Muslims and Hindu Dalits. By the grace of the divine we can draw parallels between Islamic and Hindu thought in order to bring both communities closer together and end the violence. This will be the purpose of this blog series – 

For basic understanding of the title “99 names 99 deities” I will share this information snippet.

Hindus recognize one God, Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. The deities of the Hindu faith represent different expressions and manifestations of Brahman.

Similarly, Muslims recognize one God, Allah. Allah also is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. Allah has 99 names which represent his different attributes and qualities.


2. Lakshmi and al-Wahhab

 

 

Introduction

Spiritual and Material Prosperity and wealth is something that all of us seek and wish to have in life. It is this aspect of the divine that we turn to when we feel that we are in need and wish to receive these two precious gifts.

Etymologi

Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess of spiritual and material wealth. Her name is derived from the Sanskrit root words Laks and Laksa. Laks means :

“to perceive, observe, know, understand” and Laksa means “goal, aim, objective.”

Thus, Lakshmi represents the goal of life. Know your objective, understand your goal. These are the ideals that Lakshmi stands for.

Al-Wahhab is the most liberal bestower, the great giver, the giver of gifts. His name is derived from the Arabic root word “Waw-ha-ba” meaning :

“to give/grant/bestow, dedicate, offer as a present/gift.”

The arabic word Hiba means gift. Hiba and Wahhab are related words.

Textual Analysis

In Chapter 67 verse 19 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah says :

“Do they not observe the birds above them spreading their wings and folding them? None could hold them except the Compassionate (Allah), surely it is He Who watches over all things.”

The word Arabic word for observe comes from the root word “Ra-Alif-Ya” meaning :

“to see/think/hold, in opinion of, perceive, judge, consider, know.”

Seeing a bird is only half the story. Understanding that the bird is part of God’s creation and that it is God who is holding up the bird is the entire story. Thus, this seeing that the Qur’an talks about is a seeing that perceives not only the material world but also the spiritual world i.e seeing the bird and the force that is behind it, God.

This simple message that the Qur’an is conveying is exactly what Lakshmi symbolizes, that the goal of life is not only to have material wealth (having two physical eyes with which one can see the physical world) but to combine this material wealth with spiritual wealth (seeing the physical world with ones eyes but understanding that there lies a spiritual realm behind it.)

Symbolism

Lakshmi’s image is laden with deep symbolism. She is omnipresent and this is symbolized by her four arms which represent the four cardinal directions present in the universe. Her sari, colored red, denotes activity and action. The embroidered golden lining which graces her red sari symbolizes prosperity.
The message that is meant to be conveyed here is that Lakshmi is everywhere, never resting but always deep in the throes of activity and action, her activity and action being the giving of the gifts of wealth and prosperity to her devotees.

Similarly, the also omnipresent al-Wahhab is always busy with the task of bestowing gifts upon his devotees.

Ritual

It is believed that the one who recites this name of Allah (swt) 100 times after two rakaats (cycles) of Namaaz (prayer) will get all of his/her needs fulfilled.

Hindus wishing to obtain the blessings of Lakshmi chant her name 100 or a 1000 times during their ritual worship of the Goddess.

Invocation for communal harmony

We ask Lakshmi and al-Wahhab to bestow upon us the gift of peace within our communities and mutual understanding towards one another ❤

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99 names – 99 Deities

Communal harmony in present day India is under threat with a series of lynchings carried out by so called Hindu Cow vigilantes on innocent Muslims and Hindu Dalits. By the grace of the divine we can draw parallels between Islamic and Hindu thought in order to bring both communities closer together and end the violence. This will be the purpose of this blog series.

For basic understanding of the title “99 names 99 deities” I will share this information snippet.

Hindus recognize one God, Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. The deities of the Hindu faith represent different expressions and manifestations of Brahman.

Similarly, Muslims recognize one God, Allah. Allah also is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. Allah has 99 names which represent his different attributes and qualities.

1. Al Musawwir and Vishwakarma

 

 

The worlds highest minaret, the Qutb Minar in New Delhi, built around 1192, not only has Arabic script invoking Allah (swt) but also Devanagari script invoking Lord Vishwakarma, the lord of craftsmanship.

So here we can use the Qutb minar in order to bridge Islamic and Hindu philosophy and thought. Vishwakarma, known as the “architect of the whole universe”, equates to Al-Musawwir, the name of Allah which means “The fashioner, the bestower of forms, the shaper.”

May the architect of the whole universe build peace within our world. May the shaper shape understanding for one another within our hearts.

Ramadan cooking day 18

Assalamu’ Aleikum to everyone 🙂

Yesterday my mother bought me a butternut squash and today my brother brought it over to my home. So I decided to see what kind of Indian dishes incorporate squash/gourd vegetables and fell upon a traditional dish belonging to the Telugu style of cooking called ‘Sorakaya Pappu.’ Sorakaya means bottle gourd in the Telugu language, which by the way is the fourth most spoken language on the entire subcontinent, trailing Hindi, Bengali, and Punjabi. Pappu means Dal, and dal is the hindi word for lentil. So the name Sorakaya Pappu basically means bottle gourd lentil.

As usual I followed my favorite chef Sanjay Thumma on one of his YouTube videos but I also checked out some other Youtubers and their versions of the dish and then set out to cook my own. The butternut squash is not native to India and thus is not typically used in Indian cooking but that is the beauty of Indian cooking, it can turn any vegetable into an exquisite piece of art.

So I started off by putting in some black mustard seeds in hot oil (South Indian cooking relies heavily on mustard seeds) followed by whole red chilies, fennel seeds (since i did not have any cumin seeds) and hing powder. Fennel seeds give a slightly sweet aroma which in the end matched well with the sweet flavor of the butternut squash.
After letting them fry for a short while, I then sauteed some chopped red onion until the pieces became translucent, during which I also added a pinch of turmeric and a handful of pink salt. This was followed by the butternut squash that I had chopped into small pieces.
I fried the squash for a little while, added a considerable amount of Kashmiri red chili powder, added some Tamarind water, and then put in some fresh water and let the dish boil for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Once the pieces of squash had become tender, I transferred the dal that i had boiled (Majority Masoor dal/pink lentils and minority Sabut masoor dal/brown lentils) into the dish and then cooked the mixture together for a little while more.

The final step was to make a Tadka. A Tadka is a technique used all over India wherein whole spices and spice powders are fried in very hot oil or ghee. In this way, all the aromas are released from the spices. In my Tadka I put in some more mustard seeds, red chilies, hing powder, and some curry leaves. Once i had poured my Tarka over the Sorakaya pappu, the dish was ready. And, so was my iftar 🙂

I served it to my mom and little brother together with plain white basmati rice, and the breads puri and roti. The dish had some similarities to the Sambar I had made two nights earlier, but I enjoyed this dish more. The squash was very flavorful and sweet and it felt like it not only filled up my stomach but my soul as well.

So, my last two iftars have been south Indian iftars and they have not disappointed. Sambar from Kerala and Sorakaya pappu from Andhra Pradesh. Which Indian state will I choose for my next Iftar meal? Stay tuned 🙂

God bless and continue to enjoy your Ramadan ❤

Ramadan Cooking Day 16

Assalamu Aleikum! 🙂

Hope that you all are having a pleasant and happy Ramadan, In Sha Allah.

So today I decided to cook a South Indian dish for Iftar, something that I have never done since up until now I have only focused myself on cooking North Indian dishes, mainly from the Uttar Pradesh region. Indian food, whether it be from the North or South, is especially perfect for the holy month of Ramadan because it is light and easy while still full of all the essential nutrients that are needed for feeling energetic and positive throughout the long fasting days. (Side note: I live in Stockholm and the fast lasts about 20 hours)

The dish that I decided to cook is called Sambar. The word sambar (old Tamil:Champaar – சாம்பார்) stems from Tamil word Champaaram (சம்பாரம்) meaning “spicy condiments”. Thus, the dish, at least when made in India, tends to be spicy. A sambar is basically a stew that is based on a broad range of mixed vegetables and daals (lentils). I did not have access to all the traditional vegetables used back in India so I improvised and used aubergines, carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic, turnip, and string beans.

What gives the dish its unique taste is the mix of both Tamarind water and coconut milk. Tamarind and Coconut are staple ingredients of South Indian cuisine.
Mixed together with whole red chilies, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric powder, red chili powder, asafoetida (hing powder), brown sugar, whole black peppercorns, curry leaves, salt, and store bought MDH Sambar Masala, the taste of dish reminds one of a typical Thai curry dish with an Indian twist.
My taste buds tell me that Sambar is 100% Indian but that if served in Thailand it would somehow blend in with the rest of the cuisine. Anyhow, a spicy tropical dish that warmed my heart for Iftar. I also made rice, chapattis, and what i call “Flat batura”, similar to the normal puffed up batura. Batura is a North Indian bread that is usually served with the Punjabi dish Chana Masala.

So dear friends, remember to eat healthy, drink plenty of water, and have fun in your kitchens during this blessed month.

God bless ❤

 

عَرَبِيًّا

If I could write in Arabic, It would be like writing with the deepness of the ocean at the tip of the pen, with no barriers to hold back the crashing of the waves,
 
If I could write in Arabic, I might mention how God’s mercy nourishes the universe like a mother’s womb nourishes her infant, but in many fewer strokes of the paintbrush, because in Arabic, words do not stay imprisoned to one color, they encompass the entire rainbow, and they are free to fly to the horizon and back again,
 
If I could write in Arabic, I would write God-consciousness, and the word would be like the sun, while the meanings would be like its infinite rays of light: to protect, save, preserve, guard against evil,
 
If I could write in Arabic, I would write about my hopes and fears, dreams and tears, everything that I hold dear, all the things that to my heart are near, without censure, crystal clear,
 
If I could write in Arabic, I could truly express, all of the inspiration that I possess, nothing more, nothing less,
 
And, If in Arabic I could write, I would etch my prayer, onto the endless canvas of the night …

The color of your prayer carpet

The color of your prayer carpet: Insignificant or of the highest importance?

At first glance, you might not think that the color of the prayer mat you are going to be staring at for the next five to ten minutes plays a role in just how well your prayer will go. You might not even have given it any thought.

But now is the time to open your mind to the fact that color indeed does play a key role in just how well your prayer goes, from your concentration to your overall feeling of well being.

It is well known that colors affect us and our moods. White reminds us of the light. Black reminds us of the darkness. When we are angry, we “see” red. When we are sad, we “feel” blue. We talk about “eating” green when thinking of bettering our health.

So here, I will give a list of 2 colors and talk about how these colors can affect the overall quality of our prayer.

Red – Red is an intense color that in this case can perhaps heighten the intensity of our concentration. Use this color if you feel that you are having a problem concentrating.

Blue – Blue is a calming color that has a soothing effect on the soul. This color could be of use to you if you feel that you are coming to your prayer with a lot of stress and need to wind down.

These are my two favorite colors to pray on. So here comes the million dollar question: What are yours?

Hope that this was helpful and may God bless us all with the proper consciousness while we pray, ameen

Ramadan In The Light Of The Qur’an

Salaam Aleykum to all of you 🙂 I wish you all a Ramadan full of happiness, love, and more love 🙂

Yesterday I spent my time reflecting upon one of the few verses that have to do with Ramadan, and then I wrote my own thoughts regarding the verse. Now I will share them with you…….

Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to humanity, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you through difficulties, and he desires that you should complete the prescribed period and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks (2:185)

So let us break down the verse here.

The verse starts by saying that “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an.”

Anything special to note here? Indeed, yes. Knowing that we are currently living in the month during which the Qur’an was sent down gives a very mystical aura to our present state. The book is letting us know when the book was revealed, and I think the reason that it does this is to, once again, make us aware of just how spiritual Ramadan is supposed to be.

“As a guide to humanity” – Here, we learn the purpose of the Qur’an, and its purpose is simple : It is to serve as a guide to all human beings. What can we learn from these five words? There are many things to ponder and reflect upon here. Personally, it is the final word of this short phrase that gets to me. Humanity. The Qur’an itself, our very own holy book, was not intended for us muslims. Rather, it is for all of humanity, seeking to “guide” humanity into the path of “Islam”, peace.
From this, I draw the conclusion that the blessed month of Ramadan is a blessed month for the entire planet earth, and from this conclusion, I say that as Muslims we must guide our fellow human beings during this month, regardless of faith, color, caste, creed, gender, regardless of all barriers. We must guide them to peace, both inner and outer. Reinforce the peace that already exists wherever it is found, and create peace wherever it is not found.

“Also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong)” – Here, we learn that the Qur’an contains signs that are there in order to guide us, and that it also contains the keys that will help us to separate the right from the wrong. Thus, it is up to us to search for these signs and keys. This means that we should make sure to read and try to understand our holy book as much as possible, especially during this month.

“So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting” – Here, the Qur’an tells us that if we are at home during this month, we should spend it in fasting. Pretty straight forward and clear here.

“But if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later” – Here, we get a special set of circumstances. If we are Ill, then we are not required to fast. I believe that this makes sense because it for sure must be quite hard to fast when one is sick. The same goes for travel. If we are on a journey, we are not required to fast either. However, we must make up our fast at a later time, when we have found our health again, and when our journey is over.

“Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you through difficulties” – Here, God says he wants to make things easy for us, and that he does not want to put us through difficulties. This is a manifestation of the mercy of the most merciful. His intention for us is ease, not hardship. When times get hard during your fast, just remember these words in your heart. They will help you make it through.

“And he desires that you should complete the prescribed period” – God’s wish for us is that we complete the fast. The least we can do to please our creator is to hold on, have patience, and make it through all 30 days of our fast? These words tell me that by fasting, we are pleasing Allah.

“And that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you” – Here, we are told why we should praise our creator’s greatness. We should praise his greatness because he has guided us. It exemplifies a give and take relationship. Allah has given us guidance, and in return, we should exalt his greatness. This means, whenever we say “Allaho Akbar” (God is great) during Ramadan, we should really mean it, from the depth of our hearts. Why should we mean it? Because of the guidance we have been so fortunate to receive from our maker. We are striving to become better people everyday, and striving to be good human beings that serve others. This is the guidance that we have received, the guidance that leads to peace. God is great, indeed.

“And that you may give thanks” – Here, we learn that we should be thankful to God. Thankful for what? This is up to you to decide. The things that we as people can be thankful for are endless. Just start by being thankful for life, because life, is the biggest blessing of all, and without Allah, life simply would not be.

Similarities Between The Bhagavad Gita And The Qur’an

– Nature Of God –

“I am unborn, everlasting, and I am the lord of all” (Bhagavad Gita 4:6)

“Nor was he born (Qur’an 112:3) Allah, the eternal (112:2) Allah, lord of all the worlds” (1:2)

– Overall Message –

“Those who ever follow my doctrine and who have faith, and have a good will, find through pure work their freedom” (Bhagavad Gita 3:31)

“If any do deeds of righteousness, be they male or female, and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them” (Qur’an 4:124)

– Many Paths, One Truth –

“Many are the paths of men, but they all in the end come to Me” (Bhagavad Gita 4:11)

“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our paths” (Qur’an 29:69)

– Peace –

“Know him therefore who is above reason, and let his peace give you peace” (Bhagavad Gita 3:43)

“O you who have believed, enter into peacefulness wholeheartedly” (Qur’an 2:208)

– Unselfishness –

“Set your heart upon your work, but never on its reward” (Bhagavad Gita 2:47)

“Do no favour seeking gain” (Qur’an 74:6)

– God, The Final Destination –

“He is the end of their journey” (Bhagavad Gita 5:17)

“To him you will be returned” (Qur’an 2:28)

Ibn Arabi’s View On Women As Imams

Ibn Arabi ‎(25 July 1165 – 8 November 1240) was an Andalusian Sufi mystic and philosopher. He is renowned by some practitioners of Sufism as “the greatest master” and also as a genuine saint.

Ibn ‘Arabî bestows upon Bilqis (Queen of Sheba) the rank of Faqiha. When she surrendered to Islam, she did not become a follower of Solomon, nor did she submit to his guidance. Rather, she remained free in her belief from following an envoy or an imam, free from intermediaries. She revealed that she possessed direct belief in God, exactly like that of the Envoys, when she said: “I submit with Solomon to Allah, Lord of the universes,” in contrast to the Pharaoh who said: “the Lord of Moses and Aaron”.

By examining Ibn ‘Arabî’s life, we can say that he is a man of knowledge and experience, not a man of theory who speaks about woman as an invisible/hidden being. This means that when he described woman’s aptitude and acknowledged her abilities and her equality to man, he was thinking of those women he knew and not theorizing on the “issue of women”. Ibn ‘Arabî’s statements on women are based on a broad experience of life, in which women revealed to him their powers and aptitudes. As regards equality between the sexes in the field of their competency in knowledge, he held the view that a woman could be imam, leading both men and women in prayer. He says: “There are people who permit women to lead the prayer unconditionally, for both men and women, and I agree with that.”

Why I Love My Prophet (Peace be upon him)

He was sent as a mercy, for you, and for me, and for all of humankind,
His teachings of wisdom were like an endless river, soothing the hearts of all of those who followed behind,

The first to follow him were the women, and the orphans, and the poorest in society,
But they knew that through this man, their dreams of a better life would become a reality,

They knew that they would suffer, while walking by his side,
But as unity was the goal, they went along for the ride,

He taught that they should forgive, even if they were in pain,
To let go of hatred, so that love could remain,

He was the light, and God was the sun,
and he equally gave his compassion, to every single one,

He showed them how to pray, five times a day,
For verily, it is prayer that keeps darkness and evil, far, far away,

He would tell them to say “Assalamu Aleikum”, when they would meet one another,
May peace be upon you, now and forever,

A smile was a charity, he would tell,
So give your smiles to all, so that all may feel well,

Surrender to Allah, and do good to others,
The message of the Koran, simply knew no borders,

So powerful were his teachings, that they are still alive today,
Living within 1.6 Billion hearts, who all follow his way,

Only through the remembrance of Allah, do the hearts find rest,
This is what you have taught us, Oh you who were enlightened and blessed,

Because of your ultimate sacrifice, Islam continues to live,
And because of your shining example, we Muslims will continue to give,

This is why I love, my Prophet Muhammad,
So please join me in saying, may peace be upon him,