“Shining Bright” in God’s Love

In the Name of God: The Eternally and Everlastingly Loving and Caring 

There are many times that the songs I may happen to hear will cause me to frown. So much of popular music today is comprised of lyrics that are questionable (at the absolute best) in their morality and message. Yet, sometimes, a song will come along that strikes a deep chord in me. Such is the case with Echosmith’s song, “Bright”:

I think the Universe is on my side/Heaven and Earth have finally aligned/Days are good, and that’s the way it should be

You sprinkle stardust on my pillowcase/It’s like a moonbeam brushed across my face/Nights are good, and that’s the way it should be

And I see colors in a different way/You make what doesn’t matter fade to gray/Life is good, and that’s the way it should be

I also really like the chorus: 

Did you see that shooting star tonight?/Were you dazzled by the same constellation?/Did you and Jupiter conspire to get me?

I think you and the moon and Neptune got it right, ‘cuz now I’m shining bright/So Bright. Bright, so bright.

Now, the song’s narrator feels this way because she is in love. In fact, she says to her lover: “I get lost in your eyes.” When I hear this song, however, I think of my “shining bright” in the love of God.

Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord/2015/08/shining-bright-in-gods-love.html#ixzz3kPQ8Rg1h

“Go And Cling To Her Feet, Because Paradise Is There”

In the Name of God: The Eternally, Extremely, and Everlastingly Loving and Caring 

The title of this post is the response of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to a man who expressed a desire to perform jihad in the path of God. It is likely that this man was thinking about a military battle. The Prophet (pbuh) instead asked him, “Is your mother alive?” When the man replied in the affirmative, the Prophet (pbuh) replied, “Go and cling to her feet, because Paradise is there.”

The duty we have to our parents in general, but to our mothers in particular, is enormous in Islam. The Qur’an is full of references to the duty we have to our parents:

For your Lord has ordained that you shall worship none but Him. And do good unto [your] parents. Should one of them, or both, attain to old age in your care, never say [even] “Ugh” to them or scold them, but [always] speak unto them with reverent speech and spread over them humbly the wings of your tenderness, and say: “O my Lord! Bestow Your grace upon them, even as they cherished and reared me when I was a child!” (17:23-24)Now [among the best of righteous deeds which] We have enjoined upon humanity [is] goodness towards parents…(29:8)

AND WORSHIP God [alone], and do not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him. And do good unto your parents…(4:36)

Say: “Come, let me convey unto you what God has [really] forbidden to you: “Do not ascribe divinity, in any way, to aught beside Him; and [do not offend against but, rather,] do good unto your parents…(6:151)

Read more:  http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/commonwordcommonlord#ixzz3ZeQrXItA

Between God’s Love And Mercy

In the Name of God: The Extremely, Eternally, and Perpetually Loving and Caring

This was first published in The Muslim Observer.

Although it is true that God’s Mercy is balanced by God’s Justice, it is still very important to remember the very first thing God highlighted when introducing us to Himself:

All praise and thanks is simultaneously and perpetually due to God, the Extremely, Eternally, and Perpetually Loving and Caring. (1:1-2)

God could have used anything to describe Himself in the Fatihah. Yet, He purposefully used these two beautiful words: Al Rahman, Al Raheem. Because of these two attributes of God, we get food to eat and water to drink. We get the warmth of the Sun, the cool breath of the breeze, the soft feel of grass on our bare feet.

Because God is Al Rahman and Al Raheem, we wake up each day and live our lives to the fullest. We stand breathless at the majesty of the blue ocean, its waves gently breaking on the soft sand. We marvel at the unlimited expanse of the Universe, wondering about other worlds that have yet to be discovered.

It is impossible to avoid living and breathing God’s attributes of Al Rahman, Al Raheem.

Thus, the most natural response to all this goodness is gratitude. When one realizes how much she benefits from the goodness of God’s Love and Caring, she cannot help but be grateful. In fact, one can look at the first two verses of Al Fatihah in that manner: “All praise and thanks is due to God” [because He is] The Extremely, Eternally, and Perpetually Loving and Caring.”

And out of this gratitude come our ritual worship and good works. The Prophet (pubh) said this to his wife A’isha, saying that he stood in prayer until his feet swelled because he wanted to be a “grateful servant.”

We pray five times a day because it reminds us of Him, the One to Whom we are so grateful. We refrain from doing what He prohibited, because we are so grateful to Him for all His wondrous gifts. We spend out of the wealth with which He blessed us, because we are so grateful for His blessing us with that wealth in the first place. And it can go on and on.

In fact, when one is grateful, then God has no need for punishing that person. He said it himself in the Qur’an:

What purpose does God fulfill in punishing you if you are grateful and believe, seeing that God is always responsive to gratitude (or, Grateful) and all knowing? (4:147)

The order of the words in the verse is not an accident: God purposefully put gratitude before belief, further indicating that our belief (and subsequent actions) directly come out of our gratitude. When one is grateful to his Lord, then doing what He asks is not a burden. And when one is grateful to her Lord, her love for Him will only grow and blossom.

That is why, truly, “All Praise and Thanks is simultaneously and perpetually due to God.” And we praise and thank Him always because we are so grateful to Him for all that He has done; we are so grateful for His being Al Rahman, Al Raheem.

May His Comfort Reign

In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

I was standing in my  mother’s kitchen when I first heard the news: Whitney Houston, a singer to whom I grew up listening, had died at the age of 48. Since then, and in full from at the Grammy Awards, people and celebrities all across the country have sent in their condolences and prayers. I add my voice to that chorus:

May His comfort reign supreme over Whitney Houston’s family, especially her daughter. As a father who lost his child, I know full well the pain and suffering that loss of a dear loved one can bring. Ever since that horrific day, whenever I learn of the death of anyone, my heart twinges with pains of empathy. And my empathy extends to the Houston family.

As I reflect upon her death, it is amazing how much the country is affected whenever a celebrity dies. Although Whitney Houston did die at a young age, still, as my wife pointed out to me, it seems like celebrities are not subject to laws of God; it seems that they will always be with us to grace us with their talent. As we can see, it is sadly not true. Celebrities, like the rest of us, are human beings: they live, they die; they eat, they sleep; and they are plagued with the same things with which we all are.

Still, whenever one dies – anyone, really, – my response will be the same: may His comfort reign over all those touched by her death. For the truly greatest comfort comes from the Precious Beloved Lord alone. Amen.
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/2012/02/may-his-comfort-reign.html#ixzz1mHz8Xj3n

Santorum and the God of Abraham

In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved Lord

It seems that former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s presidential run is running out of steam. According to the Huffington Post, Santorum is “taking a pause from Florida campaigning just days before the Tuesday primary that even he expects to deal him a third consecutive loss.” Yet, despite the fact that he is likely not going to become President of the United States, there is something he said while campaigning in South Carolina that intrigued (and amused) me.

At a town hall meeting before the South Carolina vote, Santorum asked a crowd: “Where do you think this concept of equality comes from? It doesn’t come from Islam. It doesn’t come from the East and Eastern religions…It comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that’s where it comes from.” He meant that, if people want equality, then they must live by God’s rules since the concept of equality “doesn’t come from Islam” but from “the God of Abraham.” This begs the question: which rules are God’s rules and who is say what those rules are? But, I digress…

Still, his statement was quite telling because it is painfully obvious that Santorum has absolutely no idea that the God of Islam is the very same God of Abraham. Islam has always maintained that Muslims worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the Hebrew Prophets. In fact, Islam is nothing less than the religion of Abraham himself, as outlined numerous times in the Quran: “And lastly, we have inspired thee [O Muhammad, with this message,] “Follow the creed of Abraham, who turned away from all that is false and was not of those who ascribe divinity to aught besides God.” (16:123).
Yes, many Muslims call God by His Arabic name “Allah,” but so do Arab Christians. In fact, open up an Arabic Bible, and the name for God is none other than “Allah.” Why, even Jesus Christ himself called God “Allah.” If someone wants to become “Leader of the Free World,” I would expect that he or she would know that Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews. That’s pretty basic information.

I take Mr. Santorum at his word that he loves and worships the God of Abraham. So do I. That should be our point of reference; that should be our point of convergence. No, we don’t worship the same way, but that is totally irrelevant. The fact that we both call upon the God of Abraham makes us brothers, and as brothers, it should move to bring us together to help make our country better. Presumably, that is why is running for President: to make our country better. So why the divisiveness over the God of Abraham, Who should always be a force for unity and brotherhood.

The same should go for all Americans of faith (and it should extend to those who do not profess an “official faith” or any faith at all). Our common love and worship of the God of Abraham should bring us together. It is what the Lord our God wanted for us. Why not heed Him?

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/2012/01/santorum-and-the-god-of-abraham.html#ixzz1khkCcRlH

A New Year’s Prayer

In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

As the year of 2011 comes to a close, there are so many things over which we can reflect. As I look to the next year, I turn my eyes skyward and beseech the Lord our God for many things, some which I will share here:

Precious Beloved Lord, to You belongs all the praise in the Heavens and Earth. To You belongs the Majesty of the Universe. To You belongs the sovereignty and power over everything. I cannot truly praise You as You deserve to be praised, and so I praise You as You have praised Yourself. Lord our God, hear my prayer. 

As You continue Your life-giving love and life over us in 2012, I pray that You continue to bless us with health, sustenance, ease, and happiness. As the next year begins, I pray that You send Your comfort to all those who have lost loved ones. I ask that You bring jobs to the jobless. I ask that You bring shelter to the homeless. I ask that You bring hope to the hopeless. Lord our God, hear my prayer.  

As the days, weeks, and months of 2012 pass, I pray that violence against the innocent ends. I pray that Your protection be extended to everyone on the earth. I pray that You frustrate and foil the Satanic machinations of all those who seek to kill, maim, and mar this world with senseless violence. I pray that You frustrate all the plans of those who seek to murder others and think You told them to do so. For there can be no evil that is truly done in Your Name. Lord our God, hear my prayer. 

Precious Beloved, as the 2012 Presidential Election truly heats up, I know that Islam and Muslims will, once again, come to the fore. There will be those who try to cast fear and division about the “secret Muslim agenda.” There will be those who will speak about the “threat” of “Sharia law” to United States. There will be those who want to marginalize the Muslim community from all aspects of American life. I pray that You frustrate these plans.

Moreover, I ask that You frustrate all plans to divide on the basis of religion. The agenda of all people of faith – whatever faith they may be – is to do Your work on this earth; to spread peace and mutual respect; to work together to make this world better for all. Lord please stop the forces of division and hatred in our world. You are the only One to do it the best. Lord our God, hear my prayer. 

Most of all, Precious Beloved Lord, I ask for Your unending blessings and grace. Extend Your blessings over me, and my family, and my practice of medicine, and my writing, and everything else that I do. I ask that You pour Your blessings over me as a father, a husband, a brother, a son, a cousin, and a human citizen.

Yet, as Your Noble Messenger told me, I cannot truly believe until I wish for others what I wish for myself. Therefore, please extend Your blessings upon everyone else in the exact same manner above. Your blessings, and mercy, and grace, and love, and beauty are infinite and endless, and so shine their light upon us all. Lord our God, hear my prayer. 

All of this do I ask in Your Most Holy Name, Lord, and thus – Lord our God – hear my prayer. And may the New Year of every single person on earth be blessed, healthy, happy, and prosperous.

Lord our God, hear my prayer. 
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/#ixzz1iFnjuCNf

“Change the Voices in Your Head”

In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

When I first reflected on Pink’s hit song “Perfect,” I talked about how it would be when we stand before The Perfect, our Precious Beloved to Whom we shall all return. As I have listened to the song again and again, this passage continues to strike a deep chord with me:

You’re so mean
When you talk
About yourself
You are wrong
Change the voices
In your head
Make them like you

“Change the voices/In your head/Make them like you/Instead.” Very powerful words, because – as we all know – those “voices in your head” can be particularly harsh and vicious. They can be much worse than the myriad of voices from without that relentlessly criticize us. Yet, why should we “change the voices” in our head that attack us so incessantly?

Because we have a God that loves us.

How can you listen to “the voices/In your head” when the Lord our God declares His love for you? How can you heed the voices who attack you incessantly when our Precious Beloved says that you are special? How can you believe “the voices in your head” when His Voice says, “I love you”?

Whatever “the voices in your head” say: “you’re too fat,” “you’re not good enough,” “you’re too ugly,” “you’re not smart enough,” “you’re pathetic”…it should never matter when The One tells you, “I love you.” And in that Love, we should all rejoice.

That should go even more when it comes to the other voices – those outside of your head – who don’t like you. Whatever those voices say, you should say: “Who cares! I have a God that loves me.” Who cares what the voices of all those other people say about you, because your God, your Lord, your Sustainer loves you. And in that Love, we should all rejoice.

Knowing and living the fact that we have a God – a truly awesome God – who loves us gives us tremendous strength, power, and dignity. We can always walk with our head up high – not in arrogance – but in the calming truth that the One On High loves us. The power of that love is palpable to all…which is possibly the reason that some may lash out with their voices in hatred. But that should never matter to us, because we know that God loves us.

“Change the voices/in your head/make them like you/instead.” It is exactly like Pink says in the next part of the song:

So complicated, look how big you’ll make it
Filled with so much hatred, such a tired game
It’s enough, I’ve done all I can think
I’ve chased down all my demons, see you do the same

It is truly, “such a tired game.” Stop hating yourself; stop listening to “the voices in your head” and “make them like you instead.” That is because you have a God – a truly awesome God – who loves you. And in that Love, we should all rejoice.