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 ❤

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 ❤

Don’t talk to me

Don’t talk to me about the latest weapons deal between Saudi Arabia and the US worth billions of dollars. Talk to me about love

Don’t mention to me that the war in Syria has been going on for six years. Mention to me love

Don’t whisper to me that another brother’s blood has been spilled by the police to paint the pavements red on the streets of North America. Whisper to me love

Don’t shout out to me that you have lost your faith in humanity, that your hope is broken like a glass flower that has been dropped from the heavens. Shout out to me love

Don’t speak to me about how 56 billion animals are fed food each year by humans while millions of humans starve. Speak to me about love

Don’t engage me in a conversation about how money runs the world. Engage me in love

Don’t try to convert me to the way that your being perceives the mystery of existence. Convert me to love

Don’t yell out to me that 1 billion illiterate people can neither read this poem, nor write one of their own. Yell out to me love

Don’t ask me about my religion, my race, my language, my gender, my nationality. Ask me about love

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 …

Poem for insomnia 

Je suis prisonnier de mon insomnie, j’ai était pris sans même que on me demande l’avis de mon âme, même la nuit dors mieux que moi,
‎وقد سجن الأرق بلدي لي، دون أن يطلب نفسي، حتى ليلة ينام أفضل مما كنت،
My insomnia has imprisoned me, without even asking my soul, even the night sleeps better than I,
Mina sömnlösa har tagit mig som fånge, utan att ens fråga min själ, även nätterna söver bättre än jag,
माई इन्साम्नीअ हंस इम्प्रिज़ॉंड में. विधाउट ईवेन आस्किंग माई सोल. ईवेन थे नाइट स्लीप्स बेटर धान I

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

How to change a love poem

To change a love poem, you do not need to change the words. The only thing that you need to change, is to whom the poem is being adressed. Where does this change occur, you might ask? In your imagination.
Imagine that “You keep my heartbeat alive with only the sweet fragrance of your memory” is intended for a man or a woman that one is in love with. But see how the effect of the words changes once your imagination tells you that these words are intended for God.
When the words are for the creation, they have one effect on the heart once we read them. When they are for the creator, the words create another effect upon our hearts.
This simple way of getting different feelings out of the same love poem only requires us to take a little trip inside of our imaginations.

A burning heart…..

My heart just burns……

When even one word would be enough to avoid death, when even one gesture would be enough to alter sorrows painful cries, when even one prayer would be enough to turn endless darkness into eternal light, when even one conversation would have brought out blooming flowers from a barren land that had long ago given up on life.

The one word : One! Would he have killed them if he knew that God was one, and as such, since God created all human beings, he was one with the very people that he pulled the trigger of searing hate on? Mankind is one, states the Koran.
“Mankind is a single nation.” (2:213)

The one gesture : Affection! Would he have killed them if he knew that the Koran states that one must do good to “the neighbor who is near to you, and the neighbor who is a stranger”? Would he hate Islam so much if he knew that all Muslims would have to do good to him if he was either one of these two categories of neighbors? One must do good to all, says the Koran.
“Whoever submits himself completely to Allah, and does good to others, he shall have his reward from his Lord.” (2:112)

The one prayer : Peace! Would he have killed them if he knew that everyday, after each prayer, they twice said “Peace and blessings of God be upon you”? That means that they said the word “Peace” at least 34 times a day.

The one conversation : Patience! Would he have killed them if he knew that muslims are supposed to endure with patience the abuse others throw their way with regards to their faith? So that even the people who, in their own words, “Hate religion”, can be turned into warm friends?

“Repel evil with what is best, when lo! He who once was your worst enemy will be like a warm friend.” (41:34)

I write this because I am heart broken that these three beautiful young human beings and muslims are no longer with us, and that they were killed in such a cruel manner. They are gone, they can never come back, and they were killed for absolutely nothing.

Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hatred, hatred leads to violence, violence leads to murder, and murder is death! This is the process that took place in the man that took their lives. But there is one thing that can alter this process completely, and that is knowledge.

How much more hate must we endure as muslims before we decided to change the situation, once and for all?

As our Prophet (pbuh) said, our Ummah is like one body! If one part is in pain, the whole body is in pain! How much more must our body suffer?

The more we educate others about our faith, the more the hate towards us will decrease, and many lives will be saved!

I finish with these words from Muhammad (pbuh) – “The ink of a scholar is more holy than the blood of a martyr”. Why? Because once you educate the world, you no longer have to die to defend the world from ignorance.

May 23 year old Deah, 21 year old Yusor, and 19 year old Razan, find peace in the next life!

From Allah do we come, and to Allah do we return.

Ameen.