By August 12, 2019 Read More →

Celebration- the start to clarity

As a young adolescent, a couple of class fellows were asking each other whether they are Christian or Catholic, and then I was asked the same question.  Since my best friend was Catholic, I ended up saying that I am Catholic as well.   And, my friend hugged me: “Yeah we are brothers and sisters!”

That evening, I went home and asked my older siblings what is a Catholic.  As usual, they were both occupied with their rigorous school work but one of them replied to me that Catholic is the dominant religion in the neighborhood we were living in.  I told them that I chose to be Catholic just like my friend, to which my sister laughed and shared how she almost got ashes on her forehead on Ash Wednesday, then patted my head and said: “Have you finished your homework!?”

Every February, my whole class would go live in the mountains as part of the school ritual.  There, once a week in the dining hall, I would be placed to sit and chat with a few Jewish class fellows eating kosher food when the rest of my Catholic brothers and sisters were eating pork.  See the irony of claiming to be something, while at another moment, I would be practicing something else ?

In all honesty, I do not know what practicing a religion means but all I remember growing up was celebrating Eid, joyful festival at the end of Ramadan and Hajj without knowing the ins and outs of it.  These festivals were at the core of my heart and I would await them every year with excitement. The reason being that my family would take turn with the other very few families celebrating Eid in that city and host an Eid Party/Dinner.  That was like Christmas and New Year for me.  Oh, and my sister and I would celebrate Christmas by decorating a tree and lots of presents exchange from our neighbors and school friends.  Typical human nature, give me an excuse to party, eat and be merry, here I come!

Fast forward to the present, it is interesting to see and hear similar experiences from people we come across.  An interesting one was a colleague who shared that she grew up in a Christian household and married a Muslim guy.  Whenever she takes her kids around the holidays to see her husband’s parents in his native country, they always set up a Christmas tree and lots of presents for the kids.  That is cute!  There are so many similar stories that we all come across and can relate to.  And so, the question remains: “what does practicing a religion mean?”  After all, we live in a civilization where you can find all sorts of fusion restaurants and work out routines, especially in big urban settings/cities.

In this day and age and maturing up to understand more of this world, it seems like a joke to associate oneself with one’s inborn household religion.  As adults, most of our conversations go like for example: “I was born in so and so “monotheistic religion”, my mom is spiritual, and dad is Atheist.  But now I practice kabbalah!”  Wow, fancy that!  What do you practice?!

What is religion really?

Common answers:

  • A way of life.
  • Following rituals
  • Believing in scriptures
  • That which I believe in?

What do you believe in really?  Yes, the universe must have a Creator.  After all, how do I explain the existence of things that I experience here.? I notice things are changing.  So, yes, there must be an Agent of Change at work causing the change that I am observing.  I observe life, aging, illness, death…

What is going on here?  People come and go.  Where do they go?  More importantly, where do they come from?  I am not asking the process of making babies, rather, where is a tiny human life coming from?  Simply put, how is existence being brought about?  Where did I originate from?  Who planted me here and why?  I must be very special to have been given existence.  “Thank You for giving me existence whoever You are!”

Now what do I do with myself here?  In other words, what am I supposed to do here?  The One who gave me existence cannot leave me here to my own devices to figure things out on my own.  I am made in a way where I get hungry and food is provided to me.  Is that it?  You created me here to enjoy food for a short period of time and then I depart from here.  You have given me existence so that I fill in my appetites, keep enjoying it and thanking You for it and then depart.  Is that it?  That is simple to do.  Eat, enjoy and say thank you every day for the rest of my life.  It is not complicated to get food, it is not complicated to love and get married, it is not complicated to make a living…  Is that it?  Am I given existence here to make a living and then die?  That does not satisfy me.  I am not enjoying the transient moments, although that is my reality i.e. what I experience here.  So how on earth am I to live here while experiencing transience?  What am I to do with my experiences here?

“Hey You, the One who gave me existence here!  Is that part of Your plan?”  To make me realize this contradiction where I enjoy things, but I am not satisfied with its passing!!  WHAT DO I DO WITH NOT BEING SATISFIED WITH EXPEREINCING TRANSIENCE?  During childhood, I am made to like everything but as I grow older, I do not understand why I am pained at each passing moment.  Things are so simple when you are a kid, just say I love you to everyone and you get the whole world in your hands.  Adult life gets very complicated, it shouldn’t be!  Doing mundane things become cumbersome because at the end I do not know what all this is for as I am subject to death.  At each passing moment, we are all aging and getting old.  What is going on?  What kind of set up is this?  What am I to do here?  That cannot be it, make money, eat food and enjoy, then say thank you, I love you; that cannot be the purpose to my existence, can’ it?!

“Can You, the One who planted me here, please provide me with guidance?”  I need to be nurtured in the right way for clearly, I am far from realizing my innate human nature which I have lost growing up.  Yes, you the One who created me, please help me because I am really pained with what I observe and experience here.  I need peace and tranquility in my being.  Not some relaxing music or soothing beverage, but I will take that too?!  However, I need an understanding that permeates my heart and my consciousness confirms it.  An understanding that satisfies me from the inside out.  An understanding that does not leave me with the same conclusion that I started off with.  An understanding that expands my horizons.  I seek an understanding that is convincing and becomes my way of life.

There is a highway of Messengership that makes suggestions on how we can utilize ourselves optimally; well, let us check it out at this link:

  • “Now has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves; it grieves him that you should perish; ardently anxious is he over you; to the believers is he most kind and merciful. Quran (9:128)”

Whatever I find myself in need of, everything in the universe is in need of that as well. The universe and I complement each other in that regards but we cannot fulfill our needs from each other to fulfill the purpose of our existence. i.e. seeking Eternal Satisfaction.  How I get satisfaction in this universe is by knowing that I am a mirror reflecting qualities of a Real Object and that is what I need to be with? Here in the physical sense eternal satisfaction is not possible, but I desire that and so there must be an existence where that desire must be fulfilled.

When one develops a worldview, which is consistent with their true human nature where the heart feels fully satisfied with the meaning behind experiencing transience, then that worldview can be referred to as “religion”For example: while experiencing any task, let’s say drinking juice, know that the thirst does not belong to you and the juice obviously is given existence to quench your thirst.  How do you explain the existence of the taste of the juice?  Does the juice know you and communicate to your tongue that hey I will quench your thirst?  The One who has prepared this whole set up is entertaining you.  With this understanding, when you perform “fasting”, you are just practicing this consciousness of how everything is provided by the Source of your Existence: 

  • The hunger is given.
  • The thirst is given.
  • The need to eat is given.
  • The need to see is given… just to name a few. Bottom line, all of existence is given.

Everything is given to us in a miraculous way.  We cannot really explain how we are being sustained every moment.  More so, how is the universe being given existence every moment.  Mind Boggling indeed!  Look at a peach tree grown in Brazil, the fruits are the same as a peach tree from California.  Yet, all the fruits are slightly different from each other in taste, shape color and size.  It seems that we are being favored with this existence as existence seems to be out of Tender, Love and Care (ahh…TLC?), which is nothing but Mercy.  So how can a spirit not be inclined to express its neediness and gratitude to the Source of its Existence then!?  That is what prostration refers to, total submission of one’s existence/being and spirit to its true Owner.  After practicing this awareness consistently for weeks can one celebrate the understanding or level of understanding pertaining to one’s meaning of existence that the spirit has reached to.  Mostly done at the end of Ramadan and Hajj, known as Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha respectively.  But the catch is to maintain a certain level of satisfaction with one’s meaning of existence with the hope to be ascertaining more.

In all these endeavors, the pre-requisite is not to cheat yourself but only listening to what your heart truly desires.  One’s heart desires Eternal Happiness and satisfaction in their existence.  Transient things are subject to transience so they cannot be what I can accompany eternally or what I desire to accompany.  So, what can you love then here in this universe?  Well, isn’t it obvious that things you want when you get it, then you know that it will die and subject to perish?  Hence, look for the Source of Existence of it and that is what you need to love because only It will give you the Eternal Happiness that your heart desires.  For when the spirit is acquainted with its Source of Existence, nothing bothers you anymore, from 15 going on 50 and beyond, you are being taken care of by the Source of your Existence!

How does ascertaining meaning or learning happen?

People can teach you everything which encompasses theory and share their personal experiences.  However, the learning is a personal process that happens within us based on our individual effort to being taught, understand, learn and then apply.

Don’t you see how news-paper goes into trash, but the meaning or understanding of the message remains?  Same goes with revelation/institution of Messengership.  People can teach us what they understand but we must learn it for ourselves, to make sense of anything for myself and then apply it to my practical life.

Our thoughts shape our world and our worldview is born out of meanings that we derive from our experiences.  So, yeah, “I am made to like meaningful interactions with the universe.  It means the One who has given me existence has imbued this thought in my consciousness, so that I may act accordingly”.  See how language shapes our world!!  And so that is what following a religion mean to me?  For I celebrate what I believe in!

  • “This day have I perfected for you your religion” Quran (5:3)


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