You Get What You Ask For

It has been said, “To believe that God gives us what we ask for is to acknowledge the might of God and His love for us”

While I am grateful for all that has happened to me, both good and bad, I am also most appreciative of the lessons imparted. I ask for God’s indulgence in making this world a better place for all my progeny…

As I get older, I think more and more about the world I live in. I think about my current position in it. I think about what I have achieved and what I still aspire to achieve. I think about my children and their children.

The thought of grandchildren brings me great joy! Alhamdulillah! My lineage is perpetuated one additional generation. It is a refreshing thought! I ponder if any of the traits they acquire will be directly attributed to their grandfather, me?

I also wonder about the current state of this world. That gives me much pause for concern. I feel both powerless and at the same time, having the potential to change things for the better.

I see all that is wrong with this world and I know we can all do better. Truly, man is in the dark and ungrateful. There are misplaced people from Myramar, Syria and other places, seeking to avoid the bloodshed in their native lands. There is a gap between the rich and poor that continues to widen, unabatedly. I have witnessed the sustained disenfranchisement of women, in varying degrees. Bigotry exists in different forms throughout the world; cultural biases overshadow Quranic values. Oftentimes, the good that is preached overlooks the questionable behaviors in society. Can anything be done to correct these occurrences?

It starts with an idea, a thought and it grows over time. We make excuses for these behaviors when in essence they all go against our better nature.

When we die, we all hope to eventually reside in some place “celestial,” Heaven or Jannah, but we often overlook the disjunct between the here and now and then

There is so much abundance in this world and yet poverty still exists. How do you feel about it? When you see the image of a dead 3-year old child floating on the ocean, does this evoke a feeling that something is wrong in the 21st century? Environmental abuse for short-term gain persists and at everyones expense! I could go on and on about these events, but I prefer to emphasize pro-activity.

When one of you asks for something then let him magnify his wishes, for verily, he is asking his Lord, the most Exalted and High.” – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

A while ago, I composed a dua or prayer which I now say every morning. This is my contribution to affect change, a small request yet huge in its potential leveraged effect. I am an optimistic person and am hopeful that the idea will catch on like a fire in a dry forest! It is about understanding; it is about what we all need to think seriously about to create a better environment, not only for us, but for future generations as well. I ask for a better world.

How can we seek to gain that “nearness to God,” tomorrow when we neglect what He has given us today? If we are strong in our faith and strive to improve our commitments, God willing, things can and will change!

I pray for a better World, I pray for World Peace and Harmony.
I pray for a World in which Man seeks a better understanding of himself
And strives NOT to offend his Neighbor.

I pray for a World in which Children can be Children,
And grow up to become fine upstanding Adults,
With a good set of Values that have been imparted to them,
By their Parents, other Family members and their Elders.

I pray that they are never again exposed to the horrors of Man,
Because these have in fact, become non-existent!

I pray for a World in which Man is the Most Diligent,
And the Most Successful CareTaker of this Most Wonderful Gift
That has been Bestowed upon us all – this Most Beautiful Planet Earth!

I pray for a better World, I pray for World Peace and Harmony.

I believe that one’s attitude is directly related to our interpretation of circumstance. I have a high regard for the power of collective thinking. One way to magnify the “essence of God” (which resides within us all) is by multiplying the virtues God has given us. When we channel our thought process, we are capable of amazing things. We can find a cure for diseases. We can place men in space. Surely we can also solve the world’s problems. God has not placed any limitations for us!

My experiences observing Layla-tul Qadr on August 3, 2013

prayerMy preparation to attend Layla-tul Qadr started out like any other day.  A cousin called to discuss her plans for starting an online business. I am used to people calling me for my advice on a myriad of subjects. I guess some of it comes from having reached a certain age (60s) and being able to communicate with people on just about any subject matter.

On my trip into the city that afternoon, I encountered a very tall drag queen, about 7 ft. tall in 6 in. heels weighing all of about 150 lbs. On the train, a dark-skinned woman about 7 months pregnant was asking for help. I looked into her eyes and felt compelled to give.

I was able to better grasp the significance of this most holy time on the Islamic calendar by reading part of Sura (44:3-4):

“that We revealed this Qur’an in a blessed night (Layla-tul Qadr); for We wanted to forewarn mankind.
In that night every matter is decided wisely”

This was to commemorate the night when the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to Muhammad (PBUH), some 1,400 years ago. This “night of power” is also referred to as the “night of destiny.” It is a night when God’s power is all-present and we can choose our destiny. It is believed that a Muslim’s past sins are forgiven if the person prays throughout this night.

I was recently reading of attempts to correlate this holiest of periods with terrorist uprisings. It was reported on one news site that, such links between Islamic holy days and militancy allow al Qaeda to continue to define what Islam is. For them, Islam is not a religion with spirituality, but is a political movement, where the holiest of days are simply calendar markers to run campaigns…”

I repeat, this is the night when Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received his first revelation.

Misguided may try to align their actions with this most holy event and misinformed may try to legitimize that notion but the moment is bigger than any can conceive…

But, I digress and this is about my experiences and my destiny. I tried to keep a fairly light schedule on this day: Attend Kendo class. Share in Iftar with some Egyptian friends and finally make my way to downtown Manhattan for Layla-tul Qadr with members of the NYU community. I attended the first Layla-tul Qadr by the ICNYU last year (http://wp.me/p2hekR-4K) and I was eager to participate in this years’ event.

I disembarked from the train a couple of stops before my destination and began a slow walk through areas of Greenwich Village I used to frequent over four decades earlier. The area really hadn’t changed much at its core, still students, deviants, shops to buy things and places to eat. One place on the corner of West 8th Street and 6th Avenue caught my attention, offering 2 slices of pizza and a drink for $2.75!

As I edged closer to my destination and was about to cross the street, I received a text message from a friend in Indonesia, 10,000 miles away, requesting I pray for her father. This was a strange request, considering I hadn’t heard from her in weeks, and just as I was around to cross the street. She had no knowledge of my intentions or where I would be at that moment. Occurrences such as this only re-enforce my beliefs.

Finally I arrived at the church where the event was to be held. There was a crowd forming outside. I could hear some brothers debating what Islam meant to them. My response has always been, “it is where I have found comfort…” My view of the world is such that we can all exist in peace and harmony and in the comfort of our own belief systems as long as they don’t infringe upon others.

Sura 98:5 sums up my position:

“But they were enjoined nothing more than to worship God, be sincere in religion and be regular in prayer and give charity, for this is the essence of religion.”

There were at least several hundred people at this event. One has to be mindful of all the Muslim communities in New York City and around the rest of the world that were holding similar events during this time period.

We finished Taraweeh or the extra prayers before tending to the prayers for Layla-tul Qadr, which are performed throughout the night.

You could begin to feel the power of God in the room as brothers standing shoulder to shoulder and sisters standing shoulder to shoulder all began repeating a unison, over and over again, Subhan’Allah (Glory to God), Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God), La ilaha ill-Allah (There is no God but God), Allah u Akbar (God is great)!

At one point I could feel the floor vibrating. I have a keen sense of such things. Maybe it was due to the resonance of trains in the nearby subway. Maybe it was just due to my vivid imagination. Perhaps God was making His presence known. I checked later, no one else seemed to feel it.

All I know is that night, I prayed for God’s forgiveness for all my transgressions, I prayed for the father in Jakarta, Indonesia, I prayed for my family and I prayed for a better life. This is the kind of person I was becoming.