Senseless acts of beauty…

Campaign for Kindness

Unveiling: When Beauty Speaks.com October 21, 2006

Filed under: Good bye. — Maliha @ 4:26 pm

Salamaat,

We have moved. An awesome and talented Sister Shazia from Nisaa.ca generously gave us our own domain and space to continue this project.

So please join us at: http://whenbeautyspeaks.com

Enjoy and if you would like to continue contributing or become a contributor please leave a comment here and I will follow up with you.

Much love, peace and cups of chai and Eid sweets all around.

Check out my first post there :)

 

Archiving this blog October 12, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maliha @ 2:36 am

Salamaat,

I am having trouble with this site. I was really excited to have a platform where we could support each other, share ideas and form a micro community of good doers having an action oriented mindset (rather than simply complaining about what is missing out there).

 After the first couple of posts, I started worrying about my actions, and whether by posting them I was rendering their intrinsic worth useless. And when I am actually doing my set kindness of the day, I would worry whether I was doing it just to show it off here; or whether the readers’ will perceive that (okay I know I am over analyzing it).

Aside from a couple of people, who posted here it seems like the interest level is really low. Besides which, I really don’t have the time to publicize this site as much as I want to. (Although the Nisa community admin, generously offered us a space on her domain).

I am just not sure what direction we want to take this site; whether we should keep it or not; what the purpose of it is; and whether it can logically stand the test of time.

The bright lining in all this; is that the idea itself inspired some people to take action; and who knows to what eternity those ripples of goodness will reverberate. I pray that Allah accepts from all of us; may He infuse in our souls the spirit of everlasting generosity; may He grant us compassion laced with humility; and wisdom weighed with love and beauty. (amin).

To the active contributors, I await your responses…

Peace and a whole bunch of end of Ramadhan Barakah to you…and your loved ones.

 

Humanitarian Day

Filed under: One Shot Acts of Kindness — Maliha @ 2:17 am

Salamaat,

I got this from Koonj’s site; it is definitely a worthy cause. Check it out and participate if you are in any of those areas. May God’s blessings be with you.

This Sunday Oct. 15th 2006, 10am-2pm, in Washington DC, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Jose, Los Angeles and Boston, Islamic Relief will hold Humanitarian Day.

Clothing, hygiene packs, gloves, blankets and other provisions will be distributed to the homeless free of charge from the Muslim community.

The organizers have all the goods available for distribution, but they need volunteers to do the distributing. They ask that you come out for a couple of hours “to be part of this national event in which we will show the nation what Islam is truly about.”

 

Ideas for acts of kindness… October 9, 2006

Filed under: Consistent Acts of Kindness,Ideas,Uncategorized — The Wayward Seeker @ 4:44 am

“A campaign for what?” Ibrahim asked me. We were sitting together in the library, taking a study break (I feel I take too many of these), exhausted from lack of sleep and far too much studying (or not enough). Iftar was still a couple of hours off.

“A campaign for kindness.” And with that, off I went…explaining the concept and its conception (from one of M’s posts).

“What can we possibly do that’s consistent? With our schedules?” (this is paraphrased…picture it in a heavy patois).  So we ended drafting up some ideas of consistent acts of kindness (while our books and notes and paper deadlines lay forgotten).


The Food for Food thing:

Many of our masjids and Islamic institutions (schools and such) hold communal Iftars. It is extremely easy to set up donation bins here…for canned goods, non perishable foods and (CAUTION!) clothing and such (more on this later). There’s always a need for such things…Speaking to city food banks and other organizations that help out the homeless, one will note that they’re happy for donations year round. Some of them may even be happy to pick up donations on a weekly schedule (or not).

This little project requires very little in the way of maintenance…all you really need is some announcements (one can talk the Masjid staff into handling this), some containers (cardboard boxes, Rubbermaid containers etc…can be acquired from donations or even the food-bank), some donors (i.e. the people showing up for Iftar) and perhaps a driver to run things down to the food banks (or whatever).

Offering a fun incentive (such as a friendly competition, prizes such as a dua’a done in caligraphy or whatever) can increase donations. If you’re feeling ambitious, link up with some people…start these at a couple of masjids and set up a friendly competition. Such is the way of our beloved Sahaba (companions of the Prophet) who would compete (in a friendly manner) in how much they could contribute (for the sake of Allah of course). We’ve managed to collect a good deal of food in our first week of Ramadhan at the University and some masjids that have joined us and have even managed to set up a single weekly delivery of food from all the masjids and University to the shelter and Toronto Food Bank.

Special note on clothes, gifts and other items (and this comes with years of volunteering at shelters and the Salvation army). People tend to donate ripped or unsuitable clothing, broken items and so on…so just be careful. Don’t forget to throw them in the wash.

The idea can be expanded into other items and areas…such as book drives and so on…try and stick within the community, town or city…these acts can then become extremely effective in our backyards.


The Random Acts of Poetry thing:

Okay…honestly…We didn’t come up with this idea (here’s the official link to Random Acts of Poetry). I think the League of Canadian Poets came up with it (I may be mistaken)…and the idea isn’t for everyone but it does seem to coincide very well with the remembrance of blessings and beauty that is integral to Ramadhan. Carolyn Souaid, a poet involved in the RAP project, describes the appeal…

“Poetry is often perceived as a bitter pill. This will be an opportunity to knock poetry out of the ivory tower. An opportunity to hear a real flesh-and-blood poet, an invitation for the everyday person on the street to slow down a little and enjoy a literary burst of energy for what it is —nourishment for the soul”

The idea goes that you recite a poem to a random person. The poem must be recited in its entirety. This is harder than you think. The more poetry you know, the better…and try to make it relevant to the person’s situation if you could. It can be used as a form of dawa’a (to remind others of the miracle of beauty) and remembrance so pick some suitable poems. I’ve got recommendations if y’all are interested (Sufi poetry is a huge hit with people). Try and pick some well know poems as well, well known authors, preferably commenting on beauty, nature, faith, patience…so on and so forth. You don’t even have to make a day of it. Try and do it wherever you find yourself. Downtown…in the Library…at the Grocery store…wherever.

Just try not to freak people out and try and avoid hassling people. The point is to give their days a high point, give them a smile and remind them of the beauty of language (the poems don’t have to be in English…but you should follow the recitation with a translation). We ended up trying this downtown (at Street Support) and it was a huge hit. People were slackjawed, laughing and generally had a good time with it. We even ended up inspiring some folks (we recited to) downtown to join us in further recitations and they ended up sharing dinner with us that evening. They loved it!

Granted…this could take some effort and time to implement. But as I said, doing it wherever you find yourself can be quite easy. It also helps us get over our fears of starting a conversation.

————————
So here are 2 ideas from the 15 on our list. I figure I’ll keep posting ideas. In all honesty…these are simply ideas for our beloved contributors and our constant (and not-so-constant) readers. Some may not be for you (I’m sure some of you don’t think they’re very good ideas). Still…they’re starting points, blueprints to be changed, modified and eventually implemented in different ways. I figure if we keep throwing out ideas, someone’s going to find something they’ll really enjoy and they could go on to implement into their own schedules. At the end of the day…all that matters is we do SOMETHING!

Next time on the list:
The Big Brother/Big Sister/Mentor thing

Alright…back to my much neglected studies y’all…Let me know what you guys.

————–
Salaams, Much Love and Respect
-TWS Out

 

A nightly kindness…

Filed under: Consistent Acts of Kindness,Inspiration,unexpected gifts — The Wayward Seeker @ 3:35 am

[I’m sure this will sound like a rant…but I can’t help but write on this nightly kindness…I apologize before hand.]

As we waited between the second and third set of Raka’ats in the nightly Tarawe’eh Prayer, there was a bit of commotion in the back. “Why don’t you just hurry up?!” The shout had shattered the silence of the masjid and the concentration of the Imam as he looked over his readings for the day. Impatience and anger lay bare on the man’s face.

It is surprising that in this blessed month, between dhikr, prayer and fasting, we forget the daily kindness imparted to us. The Imam’s nightly gift of recitation must not be overlooked…its importance can’t be underestimated. I don’t want to turn this into a rant…but if everyone gets a chance, please sneak a peek at the Imam’s schedule.

Somehow (most of) these amazing individuals patiently walk the line between the world of Deen, the world of Academia and labors and the world of Family. As most of the people contributing/reading will probably know, the Tarawe’eh prayer is a significant portion of time in the believer’s life (roughly 2 hours). The time devoted by the imam can be 2-3 times greater, if not more (review and preparation, meetings planning out the weekly recitations, actually leading the prayer, helping out at other Tarawe’ehs). During the last days of Ramadhan, their workload increases immensely with the performance of the Qiyyam (I have been blessed to know Imams of such devotion that they have recited 3 Ju’z per night between the Tarawe’eh and Qiyyam during the last days of Ramadhan).

And at the end of the night, they bless us with the steady, melodious recitation of guidance that can reduce this one to tears. They usher us into periods of reflection, contemplation and worship late into the night with their recitations. My point is the job our Imam’s do is by no means insignificant…let us then value our Imams and hold them in regard. Let us not forget them in our dua’as and ease their burdens where we can.

Don’t get me wrong…one does not always have to agree with the Imaam and differences may arise (between the congregations, between Imams, between the Mosque and the Imams, etc.)…they are after all, only human. The angry man from last night clearly had a concern…but there is an Adaab (etiquettes, manners, behaviors etc.) of dealing with these differences. Yelling in the masjid is not only against the adaab of disagreement but also against the adaab of the masjid itself. So let us not forget ourselves when such differences arrive and present our views in a respectful manner (ex. Maleeha’s letter to the Imam).

May Allah bless the Imams and reward them for their dedication and recitations. May Allah make their days pleasant and ease their burdens and may he keep them far from the flames. May Allah forgive them their mistakes and those of their families. And may Allah have mercy upon all of us.

And Allah knows best.

————
Salaams, Much Love and Respect
-TWS

 

On the power of apology October 6, 2006

Filed under: Consistent Acts of Kindness,Contributors,Ideas — Bilquis @ 10:09 am

Ramadan is a month of forgiveness. One must learn to forgive and constantly ask for Allah’s forgiveness. “Forgiveness” – a word so easy to preach, and yet so difficult to practice. I don’t know when I became so unforgiving. It was perhaps the physical torture I suffered as a child. I would cry myself to sleep or softly call out for my mother who was never allowed to ‘spoil’ me. I learnt to handle on my own the struggling sobs that lumped in my throat in tiers, the stinging pain that often left me numb, and those warm salty tears that forever filled my childhood eyes. Perhaps in that process I became so harsh that I may forgive but I struggle to forget. However, where there is fault in a person, God gives them some saving grace to make them more human than merely sculptures with stone cold hearts.  

I have never perceived stubbornness to accept fault or failure a virtue. There are times when I have apologised to my younger siblings, colleagues, friends, students, and even my children. I don’t remember my parents ever apologising to us even though they knew they had made mistakes. Perhaps apology would make us less ‘parental’? It would make us more human, I know. Pondering on the virtues of pardon is not enough if you have no one who apologises. Generally, in our bid to forgive we forget to act contrite. We demand that Bush and Blair apologise for the havoc they are creating in the Muslim world. We want the Pope to ‘say sorry’ for ridiculing Islam and its Prophet. We demanded that President Musharraf apologise for mocking rape victims. But did they? Does anyone ever apologise?! I am appalled at the behaviour of even the common rushed person on the street who bumps into me and the baby in my arms without ever saying, “I’m sorry! Are you alright?” Societies, communities, and people who don’t value the feelings of others and don’t see the warmth that the five-letter word can bring have granite hearts and marble eyes.  

A few months ago, a fellow blogger posted on a useful topic which irritated a commentator unnecessarily. When he let his feelings known, the blogger replied, “Please forgive me for upsetting you, brother. I would rather delete the post than cause you discomfort.” I was completely enveloped by the admiration I felt for the blogger when I read his reply. (And, if you are reading this, dear blogger, please know that someone greatly admires the kind heart you possess. I am not divulging your name in fear that my admiration may be seen as flattery). This is what I call kindness; a random act of sweet kindness which makes us far superior to those who stubbornly denounce others to look smart and knowledgeable.  

There are days when I am terrifyingly stubborn which makes me feel tough and six feet tall. In the night when I stand on my prayer mat I feel like a Pygmy. The prayer mat begins to engulf me like quicksand in which I sink and look small and negligible standing stupidly in the presence of the Great Forgiver. It is one of God’s smart ways of making me realise how naïve I had been in not admitting my fault earlier in the day. On a brighter day when I own up to my mistakes I stand tall before Him in the night. I feel strong, powerful, and a much better person. I can sense Him smiling approvingly at me.

Yesterday, my four year old ran his bike on my toes. Although, I didn’t complain he cupped my face in his tiny, pudgy hands and said, “I’m sho showie Mummy! I’m a bad boy. I hurt my Mummy’s feet.” It is a grand behaviour that I would want him to develop as he grows older. He should learn to apologise when he makes mistakes rather than imagine himself to be the ultimate patriarch devoid of emotions and beyond admission of guilt. I want him to be kind like his father. I want all my children to be kind. I want Muslims to be kind. I have a dream. I have a dream that we live with peace and harmony, with love in our hearts, praise on our lips, and tenderness in our eyes. I want Muslims to learn to forgive. But before that, I want them to learn to apologise.   

 

Giving like (our) Nature October 5, 2006

Filed under: Inspiration — Maliha @ 7:12 pm

Nature gives freely. A tree doesn’t question who comes under its shade; she doesn’t try to inspect the heart, intention, motives of everyone that comes to admire her leaves, eat of her fruits, or seek shelter from the sun’s harsh rays.

 In the same vein, she doesn’t dissuade the chirping birds from tousling her hair, creating homes on her crown, or waking her up at the crack of dawn with their fluttering and singing. Every part of her gives and gives freely.

Her roots don’t withhold water, because they are afraid of a portending drought. The leaves don’t refuse to breathe oxygen “just in case.” Her mesmerizing flowers celebrate their liberating beauty in laughter even at the point of sure death. Her fruits don’t think once of refusing to ripen on time, lest someone eats them. They ripen with abandon looking forward to the day they will be stripped to the core, only to become blooming trees again. 

The secret that is shared between the tree and her leaves, roots, branches, fruits; is that for any of them to withhold, to decide willfully not to give, would result in the sure death of them all. The same analogy applies to the sun, the moon, mountains, rivers and seas.  

For us humans, endowed with the double edged sword of free will, the act of giving becomes an exercise of the will. Each one of us is obligated to give, this is not a matter of extra kindness or options; it is what is expected of us through our sheer humanity. But no one can twist our arms to do it. 

If we give anything of our time, energy, of our resources; we are joining the procession of (our) nature; we are harmonizing our existence to that of the universe around us. 

When we withhold that which has been gifted to us; whether it is money, our time, what our hands can make, what our lips can say, where our legs can take us; we are eclipsing a part of our soul and creating an opaque barrier between us and the constant flow of free energy swirling around us.  

When we make it a habit to withhold for fear of what evil may lie yonder; we are in essence tying a knot in our souls; and our fears and paranoia will only be compounded. For who knows what tomorrow will bring? How many infinite sorrows are held within that unfathomable bosom? And more importantly how many of those sorrows can we realistically stave away with our collection of paltry material accumulations?  

 On a pragmatic level, when we don’t give at a societal level, and the gap between the poor and rich increases then the whole society is going to be affected by violence, strife and instability. The dire consequences of poverty can not be circumscribed to the ones afflicted by it only.  

If the biggest fear of mankind is death; then our mortality should only serve as a reminder that we are guaranteed to be separated from all that we love and hoard. And what terrible agony must it be at the point of death, to know that we are buried with our now useless talents, abilities and possibilities. 

What is distributed after our death, even if done in our name, becomes a matter of course; because those “things” were never meant for us in the first place. The more salient aspects of giving, are completely lost in the process.  

A few reminders from the Quran and sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) on giving are as follows: 

 a) Give that which you love and love for your brother that which you love for your self. Don’t give anything which is in such bad shape that you would not want to receive it were it handed to you. 

b) When you give don’t follow it up with reminders or expect reward from the recipient.  c) Accord the recipient due dignity. This could be something as nuanced as checking the impulse to feeling superior or condescending to the recipient.  

 d) Check your motive: The intent should not be to show off, please others, or gain something else out of the transaction. We should give to please our Creator and continue the cycle of freedom and beauty in sharing, giving and receiving.  

 e) Don’t worry about the consequences: It is the effort that matters never what results out of it.  

f) Give what you have in excess of: An example of this would be not to give your rent money away if that will leave you homeless. In the same vein, there is priority in giving and making sure your needs are taken care of, your family needs, your close relatives, neighbors etc.  The ripple starts at a single point and continues reverberating into eternity. 

 “For those who give in Charity, men and women, and loan to Allah a Beautiful Loan, it shall be increased manifold (to their credit), and they shall have (besides) a liberal reward” (Quran 57.18). 

Allah uses the term “loan” in the Quran to denote giving. But how can we “loan” to Him who is the Source of All blessings and Goodness? Doesn’t He have Power over everything in the Heavens and Earth?  On further reflection, the term “loaning” implies we are anticipating a return, but not from fellow man but from Him. The transaction of giving although horizontal in our plane, acquires a vertical dimension as well; and God becomes the third party and witness to it.  It also puts us in a position of privilege. Though we don’t really own what we have; the act of giving is wrapped in nobility; we are loaning to Allah a beautiful loan. What higher inspiration do we need than performing such an exalted deed at the gate of our Beloved? 

So give freely, naturally, and abundantly; in this month where the Prophet (Peace be upon him) gave at the speed of wind; let go and be part of the energy that seeks to spread, nurture, and heal.  May we be of the ranks of givers adorned by the beauty of compassion and depth of spirit (amin).

 

 
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