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A Look into Congregational Prayers

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You have to pray anyway...so why not in congregation?In fact, it can be a bone-chilling view to see hundreds or thousands of people gathered in one spot, standing together, bowing together, and prostrating together. The view is aesthetic. The scene is artistic. And it is very inspiring seeing how these people who come from different backgrounds gather to fulfill their religious duty together. If unity in Islam can be seen in one thing, it surely starts from congregational prayers.

Where Is God?

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In the heart of the believer

There are a number of traditions which try to clarify the 'where-ness' of God. Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) asks God, "Are You far away that I should call You, or are You near me that I should whisper to You?" And God replies, "I am (very) close to the one who remembers Me." Imam Ali (peace be upon him) says in the first sermon of Nahjul Balagha, "He is with everything but not in physical nearness. He is different from everything but not in physical separation."

The Importance of Self-Accounting

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Is our scroll of deeds worthy of being presented before Imam Mahdi?

God advises us clearly in the Qur'an, "Oh you who believe, be conscious of God and maintain your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent to the morrow, and fear God. Verily, God is All-aware of what you do." [59:18] The Almighty also says, "And whether you make known what is in your minds or hide it, God will bring you to account for it." (2:284)

Finding Faults in Others

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What about pointing the finger at ourselves?

Imam Ali has also said, "One who contemplates his own flaws is too busy to consider other people's faults, and the one who is satisfied with whatever sustenance Allah has provided him does not grieve over that which he has lost. The one who observes the shortcomings of others, disapproves of them, and then adopts them for himself is truly a fool." These words of the Infallibles are enough of a warning against finding fault with others.

The Psalms of Islam

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Sahifa Sajjadiya can be seen as a spiritual medicine cabinet. Just as one goes through their own medicine cabinet to find a cure for the specific ailment they have, this book can be used as a medicine cabinet for any spiritual state you find yourself in. If you find yourself in the midst of making some tough decisions, you can read the supplication in worrisome tasks. If you have committed a sin and feel ashamed of it, you can read the supplication in wrongdoing. Any spiritual state you find yourself in will have its corresponding supplication. There are supplications for certain holy occasions, such as the Month of Ramadan and the Day of Arafa.  There are also supplications for self-improvement, the main one being Makarimul Akhlaq, the supplication for noble moral traits. There are also short supplications for each day of the week, so as to make regular recitation easy. Just looking through the table of contents of this book shows us the depth it possesses.

The Extremist Within

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Are we too quick to point fingers at others?The extremist within packs enough terror to sabotage not just the religion of peace that is Islam, but also the community itself! One such example is said Aunty. Let alone every third sister and brother on YouTube who has taken it upon her or himself to 'save' those that have gone off track, or continue to remain ignorant.

Enjoining Good and Forbidding Wrong

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We must point out the truth to others...in the best of manners.We cannot be on the other extreme of only judging and condemning everyone to hell, or of being hypocrites, just because in our eyes they do not do things the way "I" do it, or they do not go to the mosque as often as "I" do, or they do not wear hijab exactly the way "I" do. Islam is a religion of tolerance and understanding, and that is what takes us far and beyond to reach greater goals.

Confessions of a Pencil

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We need that sharpener alongside the pencil. At different times, we will peel the skin of the pencil. Be it the most expensive or the cheapest, it is bound to be sharpened. The pencil has to endure the pain. Why? To fix a broken tip. Or to become sharp and elegant in writing again. Either way, the pain, the sharpening, has benefitted the pencil. And this life is no different. We go through trials and tribulations. We suffer from calamities. But this is our sharpening. If we have been good, these calamities will make us better. And if we have been wrongdoers, just like a broken tip, the calamities will fix us. Life is not meant to be easy all the way.

Lying: the Destructive Weapon

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A lie can give instant gratification but that is only the outer 'cloak' it wears. The reality has not changed, and the lie remains false and against the facts. Even the slightest slip-up will put the liar in that same position again he started at if not worse. In essence, the person who lies out of fear will be in fear of the lie being exposed. That is no gratification! But it is the reality of the lie. In fact, fear of the lie being exposed is a common endpoint no matter what initially drove the person to lie.

Free Will in the Obedience of God

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We exercise free will in submitting to Him.The power to make this choice is Allah's graciousness upon me, but in the choice itself, the very road actually taken, is where free will steps in. In every choice that is made, we can choose to obey Him, or consider insignificant the action He expects from a true believer.

Live Like Imam Ali...or Imam Sadiq?

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Many people have asked why Imam Hussain decided to go and fight against the tyrant of his time, and why Imam Hasan entered into a peace treaty. Why did Imam Ridha cooperate with the government, while Imam Sajjad distanced himself from the government? The short answer is that every Imam that we have has had a different situation and lived in different and varied environments. This is actually a blessing for us, as we can study the lives of the Imams and how they acted, given all of their different situations. Thus, we can apply these to our lived the best we can.