In this Vlog I share my near death experience when coming in to land at Tenerife South airport, and everything involved in that moment. I also share my thoughts about the books I have read whilst away regarding how modern society doesn’t contain what our human nature needs.
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In light of the recent attack in London, and the swell of peoples opinions about this incident and all other related topics on social media, it has led me to dive into my books on Islam to find some clarity on the issue. This is a habit that we should all get into, particularly if we like to share our thoughts and opinions with the world through the internet. If we rely only on the mainstream media for our education, then we cannot consider ourselves at all educated.
I will be mainly focussing on the tenets and doctrine of Islam and the Muslim way of life, so as to help you understand a little better how far removed Islam is from terrorism. It is quite likely that you associate these two words together (Muslim = Terrorist) and this can be put down to the media propaganda and its hidden agenda.
To begin, I would say something about the way Muslims will greet one another; with the words: As-salāmu ʿalaykum which translates to ‘peace be upon you.’ The definition of the word peace is ‘1. the normal, non-warring condition of a nation, group of nations or the world. 2. a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations. 3. a sate of tranquillity or serenity.’ Now think for a second, do you associate any of these definitions with the word Muslim?
The word Muslim means ‘one who submits to God’, and in Arabic the word for God is Allah. Islam is a religion that was revealed to all Prophets according to their belief, and a Muslim is simply, one who follows the Islamic faith.
There are two main sources of Islam: First is the Qur’an which is a book that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, and is considered by Muslims to be the spoken word of God which he communicated to mankind through the Prophet Muhammad. You may find it interesting, as I certainly did, to know some of the chapter headings in the Qur’an. There are chapters called; Joseph, Jonah, Abraham, Mary, The Romans, and Noah. Yes, these are also personages from the Christian Bible and Jewish Torah. The second source of Islam is The Sunnah which is the Prophetic tradition or path. This refers to the Prophet’s speech, actions, silent approvals, outward appearance and character that was observed by his companions, written down and passed on generation after generation in written form and oral tradition. This body of literature is often referred to as Hadith. As I mentioned briefly above in sharing some of the chapter headings, the Prophets of Islam are the same as those of Judaism and Christianity and the story’s of their lives differ only in interpretation.
Islam forbids all forms of terrorist activity. There are however some extreme factions of people who, in the name of Islam, terrorise both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The most well-known of these militant groups are Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria and Iraq. These terrorist groups are called Khawarij in Islamic terminology because the term refers to those who rebel against Islam and the Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad foretold their appearance and instructed the Muslims to stay away from them, and to defend themselves if they attack them. They first rebelled against the Prophet’s disciples in the time of the fourth Caliph, Ali, killing some of the finest companions of the Prophet Muhammad. Now, according to sources there are some 1.6 Billion Muslims around the world. We must not tarnish everyone with the same brush, as the great majority of the followers of the Muslim faith have the same attitude towards Al-Qaeda and Isis as those in the western world do.
There is another often used term in Islam which is Jihad, it means ‘the spiritual struggle within oneself against sin.’ The main usage of this term would be to strive or struggle towards a virtuous and praiseworthy aim, such as the struggle against ones tendency towards vice and the betterment of society. This use of the word is an inner struggle, and is shared by all of the worlds religions, to better oneself and move closer to The Good. Jihad appears often in the Qur’an without military context.
Islam contains five main pillars. These are considered the five basic acts in Islam and are mandatory for anyone who would consider themselves a Muslim. They are:
- Shahada – Faith
- Salat – Prayer
- Zakat – Charity
- Sawm – Fasting
- Hajj – Pilgrimage to Mecca
I truly hope that this cursory knowledge about the religion of Islam will give you a better understanding of a Musims beliefs and ideas. And we must always remember to look in introspection and ask ourselves where our bias’ and prejudices came from. Did we suddenly form them when we turned 13? Did we learn and form them in high school? Or were they impressed upon us by the world that surrounds us, by our parents, grandparents and close friends?
To conclude I will share a quite that is worth keeping in mind in these trying times:
‘Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.’
What with it being the Dalai Lamas birthday today, I thought it would be appropriate to share his thoughts on universal responsibility. For his whole life he has worked tirelessly for all sentient beings.
I will share a quote from the Dalai Lama:
“At the same time, the problems we face today- violent conflicts, destruction of Nature, poverty, hunger and so on- are mainly problems created by humans. They can be resolved- but only through human effort, understanding and the development of a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. To do this, we need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and for the planet we share, based on a good heart and awareness.
Now, although I have found my own Buddhits religion helpful in generating love and compassion, I am convinced that these qualities can be developed by anyone, with or without religion. I further believe that all religions pursue the same goals: those of cultivating goodness and bringing happiness to all human beings. Though the means might appear different, the ends are the same.
So, although it is difficult to bring about positive change in society itself, it is undoubtedly worthwhile to try. It is possible. This is my firm belief. Whether or not we succeed is a different matter: what is important is that we do our best.”
― Dalai Lama XIV
Just imagine the whole world adopting this religion! What a world it would become. But we can start with ourselves right now. One random act of kindness at a time. When was the last time you performed a random act of kindness? Have you ever? Try today, and see what an amazing feeling it brings with it. Let me know how you get on.
The Theif who became a Disciple.
I am re-sharing this story as it continues to be popular four years after the first time I shared it. People search and read this post, even when I am quiet and inactive on the blog. Enjoy, and remember that through free will, you can control your mind and emotions.
This Zen story beautifully shows that one has a choice to react to circumstances however one wishes. This is not easy and takes much practice and effort, but if one wishes to be less irritable, angry or miserable, make it your aim, keep it constantly in mind, and see what comes. On to the story, but before you begin reading, ask yourself how you would react if a stranger came into your house demanding your possessions or your life!?
One evening as Shichiri Kojun was reciting sutras a thief with a sharp sword entered demanding either his money or his life. Shichiri told him “don’t disturb me, you can find the money in the draw”. A little while afterward he stopped and called, “don’t take it all, I need some to pay taxes with tomorrow”. The intruder gathered up most of the money and started to leave. “Thank a person when you receive a gift,” Shichiri added. The man thanked him and made off. A few days afterwards the man was caught and confessed, among others, this offence against Shichiri. When Shichiri was called as a witness he said, “This man is no thief, at least not as far as i’m concerned. I gave him the money and he thanked me for it.” After he had finished his prison term, the man went to Shichiri and became his disciple.
Keep your aim in mind throughout this coming week, whatever it is you would like to increase or reduce. Know that anything is possible.
The most valuable, most irreplaceable asset we have in this world is time. We all start with the same amount of time each day, and at the end of that day the time is spent and we will never get it back again. We all know people who’s time has ‘run out’ and we would be silly to think that it will never happen to us.
We must use our time wisely. Obviously much of our time is spent in our working life, so this makes it even more important to use our free time productively and spend it as we would like. Do it now. Do it today. Don’t put it off!
Ask yourself what you love, what makes you smile and happy. Do this. If you don’t have definitive answers to these questions, then work towards being able to answer them.
A former king of the town of Savatthi, ordered all his blind subjects to be assembled and divided into groups. Each group was then taken to an elephant and introduced to a different part of the animal- the head, trunk, legs and so forth. Afterwards, the King asked each group to describe the nature of the beast. Those who had made contact with the head described an elephant as a water pot; those familiar with the ears likened the animal to a winnowing-basket; those who had touched a leg said an elephant was like a post, and those who had felt the tusk insisted the elephant was shaped like a peg. The groups then fell to arguing amongst themselves each insisting its definition was correct and all the others were wrong.
Many of us act as the blind men investigsting the elephant. Wherever we were brought up has influenced us in a huge way. Who are parents were, how they treated us and any beliefs they had shaped our lives too. Our experiences through childhood, school and young adult life put the finishing touches on the person we were to become and how we would impact the world.
In different cultures children are brought up to see and understand in different ways, which is why unfamiliar customs often seem curious or strange to outsiders but quite natural to members of the culture concerned. When dealing with people from other cultures it’s easy to project our own beliefs and associations upon them, oftentimes knowing absolutely nothing about them.
The world is changing, the world is getting smaller. Countries are becoming diversified and individuals are able to live and work where they choose, or where ever is best for their families. If we are closed minded and cling to our own view of the elephant without realising the whole, we will breed seperateness and division.
If, on the other hand, we see ourselves in everyone who we meet and interact with, recognising them as a human, rather than labelling them because of their skin colour, culture, place of birth, sexual preference etc, we can bring unity and togetherness into the world. This is ultimately remembering that there exists a whole elephant, not just the part of the elephant that we were in touch with while we were growing up.
Let’s cultivate community and togetherness. Anyone you interact with likely has similar troubles, problems and worries as yourself. We should remember the similarities between us, rather than exacerbating the differences.