Optimism and the Law of Attraction in Islam

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Have ever wondered why some people are so successful and happy in life, while others are not? Have you ever noticed that good things seem to happen to happy people, while bad things happen to angry and pessimistic people?

Not long ago, a book was published, which had a great success, and it was entitled: “The Secret”. It tries to give an answer to the previous questions, and it claims that the secret of happy and successful people lies in what is called, “the Law of Attraction.”

So what is the Law of Attraction, and do we have it anywhere in the teachings of our religion? I will tell you what the secret and what the Law of Attraction are, then I will explain that the belief in this so-called secret, which was told about by our Prophet and revealed in the Quran in the most simple and expressive ways, is in fact essential for a true Islamic life-style. It is essential for the inner life of a true Muslim and believer.

We need to remember that a Muslim is not a Muslim only by how she or he looks and what she or he does. Yes actions are very important, but only when they have a spiritual foundation. That’s why intention is so important in Islam. Intention can make all the difference between two identical acts. Consider the act of praying. The act is the very same. But when we pray to God, we are blessed, while those who pray to be seen by people as righteous and devout believers are doomed hypocrites.

“Woe to those who pray, those who are unmindful of their prayers, who pray but to be seen”. Quran 107:4-6

Therefore we need to focus on and take care of our inner world, because it makes all the difference. Our inner world is formed of beliefs and feelings, of images and memories, of hopes, wishes, expectations, fears, etc. All those things are the elements of this inner world which we need to pay attention to and adapt to the teachings of Islam. We need to be Muslims, to fully submit to our Creator, from the inside out. We can’t fully do that until we take control of our inner life.

Please keep that in mind while I am telling you what the Law of Attraction is. It’s very simple: you attract what you think of, you get what you expect. This is the secret. This is why some people are so successful and others aren’t. And indeed this is so clearly stated throughout the Quran, the teachings and the example of the Prophet.

According to the Law of Attraction, if you’re pessimistic, bad things will happen to you. If you do everything in a spirit of fear and despair, you won’t get any positive results.

So what’s our religion say about that? The prophet mentioned that God says: “I give what my servant is expecting from me.” There is the whole Law of Attraction! It explains the real force behind this law. It’s not the universe that gives you what you expect, it’s a divine law. If you have hope in God, if you are certain that He will give you what’s good, then this is what He indeed will give you. But if you don’t, it’s like you’re saying to Him: I don’t trust You. God is the Generous, if you don’t have hope in His bounties, it only means that you don’t even believe He is really Generous. Do you realize how serious this is?! Now consider all of God’s names and attributes, He is the Forgiving, The Giver, The Provider, The Light, the Generous, the Merciful, The Opener, The Just, the Patient, the Thankful, the Loving, the Enricher, the Guide. Think that, if you fear poverty, you don’t believe He is really the Enricher, the Generous and the Provider. If you fear that your efforts will be fruitless, you don’t believe that He is the Opener and the Grateful, He opens doors and opportunities for you and He rewards you for every good you do,

“We don’t waste the reward of those who do good” Quran 18:30

If you fear injustice, you forget that He is the Just. If you are confused and you don’t think you’ll find your way, you forget that He is the Guide.

Remember that the reason to mention all that is to prove that a Muslim should be positive and focus on the positive; it’s how we Muslims should build our mind and our inner world.

Consider this beautiful verse from surat Al-Baqara:

“Satan promises you poverty and encourages evil doing, and God promises you forgiveness from Him and abundance” Quran 2:268

Did you read that? Poverty is the promise of Satan, while forgiveness and abundance are God’s promise. Which promise are we to believe!?

Remember that poverty is not only lack of money, which is only a manifestation; poverty is first of all a state of mind. Those who live in this state of mind are following and believing Satan instead of God. The poverty state of mind is what leads to being a miser. One can be poor while having tons of money, whereas those who truly believe in God don’t hesitate to give, even if they are not so rich; it’s because they don’t have this poverty state of mind. That also explains why the Prophet used to give so much that his companions said he used to give in the manner of a person who fears no poverty; this is the example of the Prophet who wasn’t really rich as we know.

Let’s also look at some other indications of this Law of Optimism in Islam. The Prophet says “Ask God with firm conviction that He will answer your prayer.” Now imagine the state of mind of a person believing this saying of the Prophet. Imagine that you pray to God and ask Him for good and Halal things, then you go about in life certain that God’s mercy and generosity will give you what you wish. Imagine how much power this will give you, how much enthusiasm and how much hope! It’s true that God will not answer your prayer on the spot, not immediately, but you know He will, and your worries disappear.

Imagine that you have a problem, then you get to meet the President himself and he gives you good promises, how would you be feeling when you leave him? Wouldn’t you be happy and hopeful and full of energy? Well it shouldn’t be any less when you pray to God and ask Him for something too!

I’d also like to share with you a thought about an interesting verse in surat Al-Israa (chapter 11) where God says:

“Man prays for evil just as he prays for good; and Man is ever hasty.”

This verse truly caught my attention, do we humans ask for evil or bad things the way we ask and pray for good things? I think this verse confirms the same idea of the Law of Attraction. I see prayer here as meaning expectation: when you expect the bad, when you are pessimistic, it’s like you’re asking for it. The verse also links this attitude of asking for the bad to being hasty, notice that pessimism is usually connected to impatience as well; a pessimist loses hope as soon as he is challenged, whereas hope can’t be there without patience, because you don’t really expect the good to happen overnight. Reasonable and hopeful people realize that, so they are not hasty and impatient to have what they want.

We also know of the story of a very difficult time that the Prophet and his companions faced, during the battle of the Trench, when Muslims were in Medina expecting a huge coalition of armies coming to attack them. They were outnumbered and by no means were they in a position to defend themselves. The companion Salman Al-Faresi suggested the idea of building a trench around the city. They left their wives and children back in the city and instructed them to remain in their homes and defend themselves if the men get defeated and killed. A very hard time!

Now look at something very interesting and powerful that the Prophet did. While he was hitting a stone, he saw something in the sparks, and he told his companions that they would indeed conquer the great powers of their time, like Persia. This sounded like a huge impossibility. But think of what it did, it created high expectations and high hope in the spirit of those fighters, because they believed that their Prophet would never lie. They needed this hope to keep them moving and trying. This is a very practical indication of how the Prophet actually used the Law of Attraction, of hope and good expectation in order to raise the spirits and inspire power in his followers’ hearts. Eventually his predictions happened after his death, but just think of the attitude of those who listened and firmly believed him, they continued their lives and work confident that they will move from a state of weakness to a state of power.

I will conclude with another beautiful example of how believers keep their hope and optimism. In the story of the Prophet Jacob, in surat Yusuf, we learn how Jacob lost his most beloved son Joseph when he was a kid. Yusuf/Joseph must have been away from his father for at least 20 years, if not 25 or even 30 years. But then what happens when Jacob, after all those years, now that he was even an older man, and he loses yet his second beloved son, Joseph’s brother? Listen to what he says to his other sons as a response to the new and terrible news of losing the second son:

“Oh Sons, go and enquire about Joseph and his brother, and never give up hope in Allah’s mercy, truly none despairs of Allah’s spirit except those who have no faith.” Quran 12:87

In this verse lies the whole story of optimism in Islam. You can hope for the seemingly impossible, but then you’ll have to work for it. In this verse, Jacob asks his sons to go and search, with hope in God’s mercy, even though it seems so unreal to search for Joseph after all those years or decades, but this is the hope of the true believers. And it comes with active action.

Hope induces action and productivity, while pessimism leads to inaction. We need to focus on that from the inside out, we need to train ourselves to have permanent, unfailing hope in God’s mercy and bounty, a hope that will keep us active and working for the good of ourselves and of Mankind, so that we can perform the duty of Man as a deputy and agent of God on earth.

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Where am I?!!

Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims, started more than two weeks ago. We stop eating and drinking from dawn to sunset. It might sound too harsh, and hard, for you who are not used to it. But we can handle it pretty well! This is our digestive system yearly break (or so it should be, except for our fellow Muslims who break their fast with massive meals, followed by traditional desserts and drinks!). Fasting is not only about our digestive system for sure, but that’s not today’s topic.

I have made a promise before Ramadan to Helen, a reader who found this blog, took the time to read most of my posts and left me many questions and remarks. Since she took the time to go back and read my old posts, I owe her thorough answers to her questions and comments. And I thank her for pulling me out of my writing laziness and giving me lots of blogging assignments to come :)  I also had the good fortune to get to know new online friends who have lots of curiosity about Islam as well. It seems that this blog is intended to see some lively action soon!

As you may already you, fulfilling one’s promises is required in Islam:

“The hypocrite has three signs: when he is entrusted, he betrays the trust; when he speaks, he lies; and when he promises, he doesn’t fulfill his promise”

Said Prophet Muhammad, hypocrisy being one of the major sins and personality traits leading to Hell according to the Quran. Anyone who has one of those signs, has one share of hypocrisy to work on eliminating!

All that being said, I’m just writing to let my friend Helen know that I didn’t forget my promise to her, and ask that she kindly be patient with me. The low energy due to fasting, and the fact that I’m also moving into another apartment by the end of this month, left me with very little clarity of mind to write anything meaningful! So hopefully after my move is done I will get going next month!

Peace!


Living Quran

Like all believers, we Muslims see our Holy Book as a call for righteous actions, not mere intellectual or spiritual messages disconnected from our everyday life.

When the wife of the Prophet was asked to describe what he was like in his everyday life, she said that his character was a living Quran. If we read the Quran, then that’s the ideal “reading” that we strive to attain. Reading that leads to action. Prophet Muhammad used to pray God to protect him from knowledge that brings no benefit. This could mean inaccurate knowledge, or knowledge that one makes no effort to implement in his/her actions.

Muslims strive to memorize the Quran in its original Arabic. Some (not uncommon) memorize the whole book. Others memorize passages or complete chapters. I think it was Omar Ibnel-Khattab who said that the companions of the Prophet would not move to memorizing any new passages of the Quran until they feel they’re done implementing into action what they already learned. How many of our memorizing efforts nowadays follow this standard?!

When we’re told that: “And certainly We have made the Quran easy for remembrance, but is there anyone who will mind?” (Quran, 54:17), we can think of how the language of the Quran is so unique, musical and concise that some verses just seem to jump into our mind when a thought or an incident brings it up. Which makes it even easier to remind ourselves of the Quranic teachings when we need to.

I will try to use this blog to share the verses that catch my attention, and my thoughts on how to transform them into lived principles instead of mere chanted words!


Who is most loved by God? (Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindous, etc.)

Whom do we think God loves most, we who believe in Him?

May be the followers of every religion would think that they are the ones. God loves them most! Jews are the chosen people, God’s children, so He loves them most. Christians, who believe in the Christ, deserve to be saved and loved by the Lord. Or Muslims who worship the one God who begets not and has not been begotten. Which group is the most loved by God? Supposing that every group even thinks that the others are OK, let alone are loved by Him.

I, as a Muslim who believe that the message of Islam is misunderstood, misrepresented, misquoted and attacked both by stupid or superficial Muslims as well as islamophobists, as such, I firmly and unshakingly believe that God loves none of the previous groups, just for belonging to any one of them.

I learn from and believe Prophet Muahammad, and here is his answer to this question:

GOD LOVES MOST… THOSE WHO ARE MOST USEFUL TO PEOPLE.

Now here is a new group. This is THE religious leader of Islam saying that those whom God, Allah loves most are simply those who are most useful to their fellow humans. Note that he didn’t even say: those who are most useful to Muslims. Just to people. He didn’t even specify what type of usefulness. That’s why a Muslim should believes that he is rewarded by God for any benefit that he brings to people. Islam considers work as an act of worship, and work useful to others goes higher, to the Love of God. This is a very well-known saying of the Prophet among Muslims as well. It’s not Muhammad’s fault then when Bin Laden has a different opinion! Muhammad delivered the message then he passed away. He can’t come back to life to correct everyone’s illusions. This is our own mission now!

This saying is not an isolated event in the Islamic understanding:

 According to the Quran, 49:13

“Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”

Here it is stated that God doesn’t give preference for anyone except for how righteous and mindful of Him they are. No names here, no labels (Islam, Muslims). Just values.

In another passage, the Quran refutes the idea that Jews and/or Christians have any special place just for being so:

Quran 5:18

(Both) the Jews and the Christians say: ‘We are the sons of God, and his beloved.’ Say: ‘Why then would He punish you for your sins? No! You are but humans among all those he has created”.

I like that! We’re all just humans, like all other humans He has created. He judges us not based on what religion we were born following or we say we follow. He judges us according to how righteous we are. Labels don’t matter to Him. Here comes to my mind another saying of the Prophet: “God does not look at your images and your bodies, He looks at your hearts.” Beautiful!

Yet another meaning the Prophet mentioned, where he particularly talks to Arabs, warning them from the silliness of ever thinking that because the Quran was revealed in Arabic, they as Arabs would have any advantage in the sight of God: “All people are as equal as the teeth of a comb, there is no virtue (nothing better or superior) to an Arab over a non-Arab nor white over colored except by the fear and mindfulness of God”. However we ended up seeing many Arabs try really hard to Arabize Islam! To confuse and mix their own traditions (at times stupid, dangerous, and unhuman) with the teachings of Islam.

To finish this post, I’d like to mention a very important verse from the Quran, 2:62

“Those who believe, and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Day of Judgment, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”

I haven’t seen anything like that in any other scripture. Here the Quran even names those “others”, and establishes one simple criterion for all: believing in God and Judgement Day and doing good deeds, resulting in them being rewarded and having no fear. The same meaning is repeated in other verses as well. I for one didn’t find any other religion that has this same message as clearly, and that’s why I chose to be Muslim!

I hope we Muslims can always remember that true faith consists in serving God’s creation, people, no matter where they are or what they believe. Muslims strive to follow the example of their Prophet. He told them the surest way to God’s love!


Belonging!

Today I want to quote a few words of Prophet Muhammad. They express a very dear meaning to my heart. Those words will only please the free and the just. They cure a very dangerous human way of thinking. The good thing is that they come from the human source of Islam, Muhammad being the human who practiced Islam to perfection. His wife Aisha once said that he was a living Quran. He lived the teachings every day, in every act. Those words are serious and vital to all Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Muhammad said to his companions:
“Assist your brother Muslim, whether he be an oppressor or an oppressed.“ But how shall we do it when he is an oppressor?! Inquired a companion, unable to reconcile such idea with the religion he believed in, and probably knowing there was something more that the Prophet wanted to clarify. Muhammad then replied, “Assisting an oppressor consists in forbidding and withholding him from oppression.”

Because if you really love your people, your country, your nation, you’d want the real good for them, and you’ll protect them from their own stupidity and self-destruction. Injustice always comes back to the perpetrator, if not in this world, then in the hereafter. Therefore an oppressor is really hurting himself!

Muhammad expressed the same meaning in another occasion, where he said:

That person is not of us who invites others to aid him in oppression; and he is not of us who fights for his tribe in injustice; and he is not of us who dies in assisting his tribe in tyranny

The expression: “not of us” simply means: not Muslim. I beg you, read this again: “he is not of us who fights for his tribe in injustice”. Need I say any more?!


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