The gravity of the battle means nothing to those at peace

Last night, my 20 year old son came home in a solemn mood.  One of his dear school friends had passed in an operating room from complications.  We spoke of death, funerals and post funeral customs and how  people of different cultures observe it.  Ssome celebrate it and others morn for months on end.  I recalled the most consoling A’zaa (wake) I had been to was one celebrating the life of the deceased.  Death is the only certainty and hard as it maybe one must accept Gods’ will and the universal truth.

Tonight, we arrived at Ali’s A’zaa to see dozens of his young friends walking in, filling the hallways, on their faces a look of shock and sadness. For many of it is the first time they experience the passing of a loved one.  I fought back the tears at the sight of his sweet sister telling my son “he’s inchaAllah where he belongs, in heaven, we should celebrate his life, thank you for coming to remember him”.

I didn’t expect Ali’s parents to be the ones consoling their visitors.  Dressed in their everyday clothes, they greeted us warmly.  They stood, with a warm smile receiving hugs, telling guests “Allah chose him in a blessed month, pray for him”.  The walls covered with Ali’s photos and a quote he loved;  the TV displayed photos of Ali smiling, living life with his friends and family.  A table of his favorite chocolates and drinks held a sign inviting visitors to eat his favorite candy.  His friends took turns going up to his room.. a sign leading to it said “Take a souvenir to remember Ali”. Ali’s family graciously gave everyone permission to breath a sigh of relief and reflect on Ali’s spirited life.

Ali’s parents have always been role models; both spiritual and calm with a lighthearted outlook on life.  Today, they taught us all what resolve and unwavering faith in Allah’s judgement means.  “Pray for him, and ask everyone to do the same” was his father said with a smile.

I ask you all to pray for Ali and for our sons and daughters in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. May their souls rest in peace. May Allah continue to grant his family strength and mercy.

death - life - peace


Share my Dabba – A small sticker can make A BIG DIFFERENCE – YouTube

Share my Dabba - IndiaAs Ramadan approaches, we’re all thinking of ways to give. Charities and non-profits are looking for creative ways to reach out to the community.  Here’s a 2 minute video example of an initiative that works in India and can be  replicated in our region using local models.


here’s how your charity can replicate their success:

  1. Consider a campaign that builds on an existing food/beverage distribution network.
  2. Define your campaign objectives; keep it simple!
  3. Identify the people who’ll help you make it possible
  4. Create the message to reach them and get them on board
  5. Figure out your distribution channels
  6. Select communication channels where your supporters are likely to be (reach mass audiences of supporters through social media).
  7. Create simple content (photos, home-made videos)  that have a high emotional value.
  8. Start small and watch it grow.
  9. Measure your success and report on it to your stakeholders.
  10. Be patient with your program. Watch it grow slowly, it will have a longer lasting impact.

For a regional example check out the Family Kitchen in Jordan

For more on Share My Dabba check out lighthouse insights

Relevant organizations providing support in Ramadan: PMRS  Nakhweh

Jelaluddin Rumi: Fasting

There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.

We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox

is stuffed full of anything, no music.

If the brain and belly are burning clean

with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.

The fog clears, and new energy makes you

run up the steps in front of you.

Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.

Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.

When you’re full of food and drink, Satan sits

where your spirit should, an ugly metal statue

in place of the Kaaba. When you fast,

good habits gather like friends who want to help.

Fasting is Solomon’s ring. Don’t give it

to some illusion and lose your power,

but even if you have, if you’ve lost all will and control,

they come back when you fast, like soldiers appearing

out of the ground, pennants flying above them.

A table descends to your tents,

Jesus’ table.

Expect to see it, when you fast, this table

spread with other food, better than the broth of cabbages.

via Jelaluddin Rumi: Fasting.

“Fast and you shall be healthy“ said the profit PBUH. “Live simply, so others may simply live”.

To observe Ramadan, is to bring silence and peace to the body, mind and spirit. Ramadan is a month of discipline; performed right, you emerge with the feeling of having spent a month at a meditation and body purifying retreat. The month calls for abstaining from the luxuries of life and allowing the senses to make do with minimal stimulation both in body and spirit. Clearly the most obvious is the abstinence from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. While it may seem difficult, it is easier to practice than other forms.

Taste – To fast only from food an beverage is cleansing for the body. Much scientific research praises the practice when performed correctly. The practice calls for having a reasonable portion of well-balanced, nutrient rich breakfast before dawn. This gives you the fuel you require for the day. At sunset, you are meant to break fast on a light meal to slowly reintroduce your body to food and drink. The taste of the first sip of water feels like a blessing. You drink it after saying a prayer thanking Allah for granting you the baraka of food and drink. You follow the meal with a series of prayers allowing the nutrients to re-energize your body. As the night progresses, you can have another light meal or drink fluids.

The abstinence from food and drink strikes on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you are hungry and thirsty, you are unlikely to be consumed with the needs further up the hierarchy. Sight – Purification of the sight sense, in its fundamental form is avoiding sights that are deemed forbidden in Islam; whether exposing what is forbidden or flaunting wealth that can cause envy with the less fortunate. In consideration, women and men alike might opt to present themselves modestly, to assist observers of the month in fulfilling their duty. As an observer, you are expected to cast your sight modestly on your surroundings and avoid staring. In an urban environment, polluted with billboards promoting luxury lifestyles, an escape to nature, spiritual dwellings or home can help you practice this form of purification.

Sound – Purification of the sense of sound comes in many forms. Reducing the bombardment of loud noise, whether it is loud music, TV, human dialogue, arguments, foul language or any other form born by you or others in your community. A month of peace and tranquility, giving the delicate muscles in your ears a break. Freeing the hearing center in your brain and allowing it to relax and rejuvenate. In today’s urban, noise polluted environment, this break comes as a blessing (baraka).

Smell – Purification of the sense of smell would be a blessing for all. The crowded urban airspace carries smells ranging from the subtle to the extremely pungent. To the smell center of the brain, urban airspace is equivalent to being on a treadmill at 100 km per hour. A constant workout. From perfumes to poor hygiene, the aroma of coffee, the smell of cigarettes, to the smell of a worn out diesel fuel engine. Imagine a break from all of that.. it does wonders for the brain and smell organs.

Above all, disciplining the mind and heart, is the greatest challenge and the highest reward. To be able to monitor ones thoughts and feelings and focus on the positive, the peaceful, the pure is the most enriching experience to the individual and the community. To challenge the mind to think of the good, to challenge the heart to love and appreciate, to avoid anger, hostility, confrontation, ill-will. To lead with kindness and forgiveness, is to be blessed with the true spirit of the month.