Today, I am getting ready to go to a Christmas party held at my best friend’s house. As an American muslim, this tradition has been around me all my life and if you grew up in an open minded household you learn to respect other’s holidays and traditions. I luckily did grow up in one.
We have a tree, give presents and enjoy yummy holiday treats. Why not? It is a time to share with those closest to you and to strangers. Islam is all about providing the bridge that connects people to each other after so long of being divided. As a muslim, I am fiercely fighting to unite what was divided by greedy and ignorant men of the past and present within religion. My weapon of choice is love and education.
Through the Quran, muslims are told how important it is to give to others and to share the wealth. We are told to be kind and be righteous in our thoughts. Well, during the Christmas season there is no other time when people are kind to each other than this time. There are boxes to donate toys to children who are orphans and poor in shelters at Walgreens, and I donated a few barbie dolls I’ve collected just the other day. There are red cross pots to put in dollars for the poor and hungry with a pleasant worker standing in a Santa suit outside of a grocery store. I love Christmas and I love Jesus. I believe in Jesus and love him as a muslim as another prophet sent down to humans by God as a mercy to mankind.
Jesus was the divinely created human catalyst for the world to start to worship one God and to end hoarding of wealth and greed. He was a teacher and inspires me everyday, as I ask W.W.J.D in this situation?
No, I don’t worship Jesus directly. I pray to God just as Jesus did in the gardens of Gethsemane when he knew the Romans were coming to arrest him for preaching peace and starting a form of revolution that never quite ended. But I do love him as a soul from God, that brought a lasting faith to people.
Perhaps Christmas isn’t exactly the time of his birth as the “Zeitgeist’ movie pointed out, but the meaning behind it is there for me. It is a time of celebration of those special to you and to strangers on the street out in the cold. You show kindness in gift gifting and love to others in gratitude for them being part of your journey during the year just as Jesus did at one time in history.
Yes, muslims have Eid which is celebrated in a similar way as a time when the Quran came down to Muhammad, so I have two times a year where I celebrate a wonderful holiday with friends and family. God knows my heart, and knows that with accepting Christmas, I am not accepting the old pagan idea of Jesus or Santa. God knows that I celebrate out of joy and love for those around me in America.
I hope my post can reach others and show that it never has to be one or the other when dealing with higher intentions to make peace on earth.
90. Some of the Desert-Arabs came to make excuses, asking to be granted exemption, while those who were untrue to God and His Messenger stayed behind. A painful punishment will afflict those among them who disbelieved.
91. There is no blame on the weak, nor on the sick, nor on those who have nothing to give, provided they are true to God and His Messenger. In no way can the righteous be blamed. God is Forgiving and Merciful.
92. Nor on those who approach you, wishing to ride with you, and you said, “I have nothing to carry you on.” So they went away, with their eyes overflowing with tears, sorrowing for not finding the means to spend.
93. But blame is on those who ask you for exemption, although they are rich. They are content to be with those who stay behind. God has sealed their hearts, so they do not know.
94. They present excuses to you when you return to them. Say, “Do not offer excuses; we do not trust you; God has informed us of you. And God will watch your actions, and so will the Messenger; then you will be returned to the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, and He will inform you of what you used to do.”
95. They will swear to you by God, when you return to them, that you may leave them alone. So leave them alone. They are a disgrace, and their destiny is Hell; a reward for what they used to earn.
96. They will swear to you that you may accept them. But even if you accept them, God does not accept the wicked people.
97. The Desert-Arabs are the most steeped in disbelief and hypocrisy, and the most likely to ignore the limits that God revealed to His Messenger. God is Knowing and Wise.
98. And among the Desert-Arabs are those who consider their contribution to be a fine. And they wait for a reversal of your fortunes. Upon them will fall the cycle of misfortune. God is Hearing and Knowing.
99. Yet among the Desert-Arabs are those who believe in God and the Last Day, and consider their contribution to be a means towards God, and the prayers of the Messenger. Surely it will draw them closer, and God will admit them into His mercy. God is Forgiving and Compassionate.
100. The Pioneers-The first of the Migrants and the Supporters, and those who followed them in righteousness. God is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens beneath which rivers flow, where they will abide forever. That is the sublime triumph.
Gabriel is also explaining to Muhammad that God sees all, and those who are too sick, weak, and physically unable to fight with Muhammad, God sees this. They are in no way punished. God is fair and just and only punishes those who could have done more, but chose not to.
There were people who wanted to ride with Muhammad and his small army, but they had no horse or camel, and Gabriel is telling him that these people who went away with tears in their eyes were seen by God. They had good intentions and God saw this.
Among the desert Arabs are the ones that have not been believers of Muhammad so they are not considered muslims and when asked to donate to those in need, they see it like a fine or a tax, instead of welcoming it from their own hearts. They stay with their wealth and homes, and lead a life of inaction. God sees them too.
And among the desert Arabs are those who welcome Muhammad’s messages and gladly give to fill their hearts with happiness that they have helped others. These are the ones that God and the Angels see as being good and will be in paradise in the end.
50. If something good happens to you, it upsets them; and if a calamity befalls you, they say, “We took our precautions in advance,” and they depart, happy.
51. Say, “Nothing will happen to us except what God has ordained for us; He is our Protector.” In God let the faithful put their trust.
52. Say, “Are you expecting for us anything other than one of the two excellences? As for us: we are expecting that God will afflict you with a punishment from Himself, or at our hands. So wait, we are waiting with you.”
53. Say, “Whether you spend willingly or unwillingly, it will not be accepted from you. You are evil people.”
54. What prevents the acceptance of their contributions is nothing but the fact that they disbelieved in God and His Messenger, and that they do not approach the prayer except lazily, and that they do not spend except grudgingly.
55. Let neither their possessions nor their children impress you. God intends to torment them through them in this worldly life, and that their souls depart while they are disbelievers.
56. They swear by God that they are of you. But they are not of you. They are divisive people.
57. Were they to find a shelter, or a cave, or a hideout, they would go to it, rushing.
58. And among them are those who criticize you in regard to charities. If they are given some of it, they become pleased; but if they are not given any, they grow resentful.
59. If only they were content with what God and His Messenger have given them, and said, “God is sufficient for us; God will give us of His bounty, and so will His Messenger; to God we eagerly turn.”
60. Charities are for the poor, and the destitute, and those who administer them, and for reconciling hearts, and for freeing slaves, and for those in debt, and in the path of God, and for the traveler in need-an obligation from God. God is All-Knowing, Most Wise.
Gabriel is telling Muhammad what to say to the people. There is a notion that Muhammad has been telling the people that they needed to pray, stop living in excess and donate their money to those who really need it and they have only half heartedly agreed to do this. Gabriel is chastising them and telling Muhammad to warn them, that God sees their laziness and disbelief.
The faithful have no fear and they believe and trust in the Quran revelations. The ones who don’t are the ones Muhammad is told to tell them they are “evil”. Not to solidify a trait in them, but to make them feel guilty of what they have done and are doing so that they may change.
In Line 58-60 is where we are shown Muhammad is criticized for his donations to charities and speeches about the importance of giving up wealth for others. Some do not see it and mock him. Gabriel tells Muhammad that he needs to teach the people that charity and helping of those in more desolate situations than you is important. It is an obligation from God and required of the believers.
One of my favorite childhood books was “The Little Prince”
260. And when Abraham said, “My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead.” He said, “Have you not believed?” He said, “Yes, but to put my heart at ease.” He said, “Take four birds, and incline them to yourself, then place a part on each hill, then call to them; and they will come rushing to you. And know that God is Powerful and Wise.”
261. The parable of those who spend their wealth in God’s way is that of a grain that produces seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. God multiplies for whom He wills. God is Bounteous and Knowing.
262. Those who spend their wealth in the way of God, and then do not follow up what they spent with reminders of their generosity or with insults, will have their reward with their Lord-they have nothing to fear, nor shall they grieve.
263. Kind words and forgiveness are better than charity followed by insults. God is Rich and Clement.
264. O you who believe! Do not nullify your charitable deeds with reminders and hurtful words, like him who spends his wealth to be seen by the people, and does not believe in God and the Last Day. His likeness is that of a smooth rock covered with soil: a downpour strikes it, and leaves it bare-they gain nothing from their efforts. God does not guide the disbelieving people.
265. And the parable of those who spend their wealth seeking God’s approval, and to strengthen their souls, is that of a garden on a hillside. If heavy rain falls on it, its produce is doubled; and if no heavy rain falls, then dew is enough. God is seeing of everything you do.
266. Would anyone of you like to have a garden of palms and vines, under which rivers flow-with all kinds of fruit in it for him, and old age has stricken him, and he has weak children-then a tornado with fire batters it, and it burns down? Thus God makes clear the signs for you, so that you may reflect.
267. O you who believe! Give of the good things you have earned, and from what We have produced for you from the earth. And do not pick the inferior things to give away, when you yourselves would not accept it except with eyes closed. And know that God is Sufficient and Praiseworthy.
268. Satan promises you poverty, and urges you to immorality; but God promises you forgiveness from Himself, and grace. God is Embracing and Knowing.
269. He gives wisdom to whomever He wills. Whoever is given wisdom has been given much good. But none pays heed except those with insight.
270. Whatever charity you give, or a pledge you fulfill, God knows it. The wrongdoers have no helpers.
Gabriel begins to explain the essence of charity and how when you do one good deed, it multiplies rewards and blessings. There is an analogy given to Muhammad to understand that planting the seed of a good deed will bring even more good karma or good blessings into harvest in your life. This does not mean that you will not be tried and have challenges, but that you will have more good in your life happen than bad, when you are constant with charity. It is important to not brag or gloat about your charity or make others feel bad. This is not being a good person on top of this good deed, and God knows all intentions you may have. In a way your insult or unkind deed could dilute the previous good deeds. So as a reminder stay focused on doing good and not just want to please God. It is about the lifestyle of being kind always, not just to get into Heaven.
This is one of the major arguments that disbelievers may have, and here it clearly says to do things with full effort and good intent, or they don’t count at all. It is best to give and not make a big production of it or expect anything in return. The joy of giving should become the gift.
The parable of the garden is to show how good deeds can be nullified when you do bad deeds towards others show the true essence of your heart.
Muhammad is then warned that Satan throughout all humanity’s time on earth will tempt people with money, fame, and power, and in response cause a downfall that will lead to poverty of the soul. But the BEST reward is Heaven where all you can ever imagine that is given to you that in non material fulfillment, and this comes to those who have not hoarded, but shared to others. I believe this speaks greatly about our interconnection and how we have the power to make other people’s experiences more joyful even when the leaders do not. Even through oppression, a piece of bread, a drink of water, a kind gesture is enough to uplift a soul, and in the end yours too.
There is an idea that wisdom is connected to being divinely inspired. Information that helps someone live better with more understanding or awareness is a true gift to someone. This is opposite of the idea of Tree of Knowledge in Christianity. Here, Muhammad is told that wisdom is not something to be afraid to seek and those who gain it are those who have earned it. Wisdom gives you control over base human emotions and desires. You are then able to live in this world, but not be part of it and your soul belongs to Heaven. If you have wisdom, it has been revealed to you by God to understand the world.
Those who do not give or have wisdom, are part of the people who have lost their way. They do not seek a spiritual life, and they do not seek to do good. God sees all and there is no where in death, where they can run from their own reality of whom they have decided to become. The way of Wisdom is not through magic, or rituals. It is through being kind, giving, and then sharing what has been given to you.