Goodbye Ramadan and Hello Honeymoon.
Photo by Yasin Hassan available under a Creative Commons License
As the blessed month of Ramadan comes towards it’s final days, and wedding season will once again resume, we just wanted to take an opportunity to share some of the best ads about Ramadan. What is the connection to weddings? Emotions. Weddings are very touch feely for many reasons and in Ramadan as we get a chance to share, here is something that we should carry over to “our” weddings, empathy, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and generosity.
Here they are our top 10 Ramadan videos, in no particular order.
Moscow and St. Petersburg are probably not the first names that people think of for going on a Muslim Honeymoon. Yet there are some very interesting reasons to consider either or both. Why consider Moscow? It is the Muslim Capital of Europe with an estimated 1.5 Million Muslims living in a city of over 12 Million people. St. Petersburg is the former capital and although much smaller has character and energy. There are Muslims from all over Central Asia. Below are 10 reasons to consider.
Photo by Bernt Rostad available under a Creative Commons License
- Moscow and St. Petersburg are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Central Europe.
- Both cities are a mix of ancient and modernity with a lot of their history preserved.
- Moscow is a large city but it has pockets real beauty, it resides on the Moskva river.
- The focal point of Moscow is Red Square and The Kremlin
- It’s hard to compare 2 cities as their personalities are very different but St. Petersburg is probably the more picturesque.
- If you like history, arts architecture then both cities have a lot to offer.
- You can explore the city on foot, metro or on a romantic boat ride with dinner along theMoskva river.
- Besides Red Square there are museums, libraries, tombs, cathedrals and castles, malls both historic (GUM) and new and of course the Bolshoi Theatre
- There 4+ mosques in Moscow but the Moscow Cathedral Mosque is an amazing one to attend especially on Jummah. Plan to arrive early as a lot of people end up praying outside on to the street.
- In Moscow the visual that captures the city is St. Basil’s Cathedral and in St. Petersburg it is the Church of the Savior on Blood.
The best time to visit is Spring through Fall. If budget is not an issue, the Radisson Royal Hotel is vey historic and a great experience or you can plan to stay near Red Square at the Four Seasons. For budget conscious folks there are plenty of other options. Halal food is available at many restaurants, if you ask, Lamb, Beef or Goat is many (but not always) Halal. Right by the Radisson there are three Halal options, Farsi (Persian), Chef (Turkish) and Marani (Georgian). Always which items on the menu are halal.
Time Magazine in July 2016 published an issue called “240 Reasons to Celebrate America.” It has some amazing reasons which being American make us proud. With the month of Ramadan around the corner, we thought it would be great to reflect on reasons to celebrate our faith despite so much negativity in media and the world of politics against Islam and Muslims. Here are 17 “Reasons to Celebrate Islam and Being Muslim:”
Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús – available under a Creative Commons License
- We are a diverse lot. With over 50 Muslim-majority countries and with Muslims having some form of meaningful presence in the remaining 146 countries, you see that rainbow of faces throughout the world.
- Muslims are generous. Combining Zakah and Sadqa Muslims spend anywhere from an estimated $200B to $1Trillion yearly (Source: oxfamblogs.org)
- Muslims are hospitable by nature. As a collective, no matter where ever you go to Muslim communities in the West or to the Muslim world, we are by far culturally one of the most hospitable people on the planet. We welcome people both known and unknown to our homes and offer food and hospitality to no end.
- We don’t have to Detox, Ramadan fasting is a Detox.
- 81 UN World Heritage Sites in the Arab States alone plus many more in Africa, Asia and more.
- Muslims are Culture-rich in family values, history and traditions.
- Muslims are the world’s fastest-growing religious group. Whether it be ethnically, spiritually, or culturally, the Muslim population is growing by leaps and bounds.
- Really cool places to visit. Leaving aside conflict zones, Muslims have huge Magnets as cultural attractions from Morocco to the Maldives and from Kenya to Kazakhstan (yeah ok, Kenya is not Muslim Majority), but it rhymes, so just go with it.
- The best airlines. The Middle East has become the hub of four of the largest/most popular airlines in the world, including Emirates, Etihad, Turkish Airlines, and Qatar Airways.
- Muslims take care of the basics. No matter where Muslims go, we are pretty good of establishing mosques, schools, and Halal meat.
- Muslims have an incredible variety of cuisines due to their diversity from West Africa, North Africa, East Africa, Middle East, Near East and Far East, East European, along with all the hyphenated fusion cuisines that come about due to migration. Go Biriyani!
- Muslims are blessed with Natural beauty in place and people. Muslim architecture from Morocco to Mali, Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia,… the list is endless. Same thing with people, the men, women and children may not all have the Chiseled, glossed image of beauty in the West, but they have a beauty in their simplicity, dignity, and spirituality.
- Some of the best athletes and entertainers both in the West and in Muslim majority countries are Muslim. Arthouse films from Iran and other countries have been nominated and or won Academy Awards.
- Muslims are spiritually grounded. Every human being needs a spiritual anchor that grounds them in life and for the vast majority of Muslims we have this blessing.
- Muslims have a rich history in the sciences, literature and culture. Our contributions in the past are earth-shattering and there is a slow revival taking place across the Muslim world.
- We have the best non-alcoholic drinks the world over, from Chai, to Coffee, Lassi to Dough.
- Muslims are blessed with, grace and beauty that permeates not only their lives but all those who they come into contact with.
One of the best ways to get a someone you are interested to get to know to open up is by asking engaging questions. It’s always best to start off sharing something about yourself, that makes the other person feel less vulnerable. Here are 10 great questions that you can edit and or add to so that they work for you.
Photo by new Frank van Leersum available under a Creative Commons Attribution-license
- Growing up what is one of your favorite childhood memories?
- How would your friends describe you?
- Who do you most admire in life?
- Share a defining moment in your life?
- Who was the most pivotal person in your life and why?
- If you could meet 5 people past or present who would they be?
- If a startup you worked for went IPO what would you do say with your $10M equity?
- What are you most proud off?
- If your home caught fire and you could only carry 5 things what would they be?
- If could go back and repeat your life what would you do different?
A question that I have to field lately by my co-workers when we get into social conversation is “where did you meet your wife?” or “how did you meet your wife?” While trying to be truthful but also present it in a positive light, I stumble through my words and give an answer. It’s not a surprise to see the shock and awe when they hear for someone grown up and living in the West, that it was an arranged marriage. Whether it be innocent non-desis (South Asians) or our grown/growing children they can’t believe that we (my wife and I), by God’s infinite mercy are happily married since almost the stone age, we’re madly in love and continue to explore and grow in our love and yet our lives started as two total strangers.
Photo by Azlan DuPree available under Creative Commons Attribution License.
Even in the present, Perfectly Arranged Marriages have a place in society. Note, I am not talking about “Forced marriages” or examples of arranged marriages gone horribly wrong. It’s unfair to take outliers and use them to demonize a norm of society. After all arranged marriages were the norm in pretty much all Western and Eastern societies until the Renaissance in the West changed to a “market model” associated with love. As a disclaimer, I will be the first to say that arranged marriages of the past do NOT have a place for children of immigrants where this was the cultural norm.
Below are,10 Reasons to have a Perfectly Arranged Marriage:
- Your parents pay for the wedding (usually but not always).
- You have a whole lifetime of discovering each other.
- With parents as filters your social and family compatibility is almost guaranteed.
- There are no matchmaker fees as the Aunties just love to make introductions.
- You hopefully only emotionally invest in one person, so so there is no dating game and heartbreaks.
- You will be the happiest couple when you agree to share your parents guidance over only your decision.
- Stress Free Parental Introduction. Yes that’s right, you don’t need to worry what the parents are going to think about your choice because well, they have the inside scoop.
- The honeymoon lasts about 2 years instead of a week, as you are two total strangers getting to know each other.
- Free childcare. When your parents are bought-in to the idea of your marriage and now that you’re married and you both want to go on vacation or to the movies what better way for your child to bond than with their grandparents.
- Less chance of being accidentally left out of your parents will and living trust if you get their buy-in before the wedding.
- Bonus. There are no blind dates, as Mom, Pops, Auty Ji, and the whole extended family is with you on the date.
- Bonus+Bonus. You will have a Hollywood or Bollywood Happily ever ending, you just now have to fill in your love story, and work hard on it, be patient,committed and pray, that’s all.
It is not easy bringing our heaven and earth together. Unless you are a scholar or a student of deen, it is sometimes very challenging to connect our faith to every day life. In the last post we covered Retox.
Photo by livnir available under a Creative Commons Attribution-license
In this one we would like to share some of the highlights from The Guru in You: A Personalized Program for Rejuvenating Your Body and Soul by Cameron Alborzian.
It is an amazing book, we do not know the authors faith, but many of the questions he asks and the spiritual path he shares overlap with Islam and the Prophetic way. Below is most of the table of contents, can you make a connection?
- We become attached to the material world. First step towards happiness is intention (niyah)
- The practice of nonviolence, kindness towards ourselves and others.
- The practice of detachment, allowing what nature intends for us.
- Letting go of excess, knowing when enough is enough for the perfect amount.
- Posture, practice, and the pursuit of inner beauty.
Here are some of the highlights that we got from browsing the book.
Questions to ask ourselves
- Do you fill your life with constant chatter and entertainment?
- Am I constantly eating or drinking (even if its soda)?
- Do I constantly watch TV or films?
- Am I always in front of a computer or phone?
- Am I constantly watching everything that passes by on the street?
- Am I constantly listening to music or talking on the phone?
To detox the author says we don’t need products, just drink hot water for several days. Here are some more nuggets.
- With the above examples, when our senses our stimulated our breath goes out of balance.
- Our stimulated senses induce attachments and desire.
- We love our opinions, we love having them. Learn to listen to difference of opinion.
- Detachment. eg when watching a a game, rather than hoping one side wins, just enjoy the game. You will be less drained from the experience.
- Enjoy friends company. You don’t have to fill silent gaps with meaningless chatter. It is good to have silent moments.
- The author shares a great example of attachment. We apply for a job. We see that we have a perfect fit.. We see ourselves in that role. We are attached to it, and then crushed when we don’t get it. Detachment means telling ourselves that experience may not pan out as we would like, another one is around the corner, nature (God) didn’t intend it for us.
- If we are attached to getting an object (maybe a car or whatever) detachment from goods and objects when you don’t get them means there may be a better time to get that object or it may be beneficial to not have it all.
- A great example he share which we can put into practice, is going to a bakery where you love the smell and are tempted to try out the pastries. Instead we go, take in the aroma, but control ourselves. The next time we go again we can up the ante, but each time you are in control. The key takeaway is we don’t need instant physical gratification.
- What happens when we become fearful of not getting something. Fear leads to desperation (not inspiration).
- We need spiritual freedom, a fully realized state, beyond material, mental, and emotional limits.
- Practice non-violence towards self and others. In self talk this means avoiding ‘I’m not smart enough, I won’t ever find success, I’ll never get married.”
- Cultivate sexual energy. The practice of guarding and cultivating our sexual energy and finding that balance of extremes of frustration (not having sex) versus excess.
It is hard to encapsulate a wonderful book like this, bu hopefully it gives you a flavor.