Sunday, 27 May 2018

REFLECTIONS ON RAMADAN FAST 3



Prophet Muhammad said: “You see the believers as regards their being merciful among themselves and showing love among themselves and being kind, resembling one body, so that, if any part of the body is not well then the whole body shares the sleeplessness (insomnia) and fever with it.” (Al-Bukhari)
We want others to put themselves in our shoes and view the world from our perspective. That is empathy – putting oneself in someone else’s shoes. We feel close to the person who is empathetic to us, find it easy to share our thoughts with them, go to him or her when we’re in problem and seek solace. Each of us has a natural sense of empathy through which we connect to others. 
There are two aspects of empathy: cognitive and affective. Cognitive empathy is about understanding another person’s point of view, their emotions and needs at the intellectual level. Affective empathy is about actually feeling an emotion that another person is experiencing.
If only our leaders would empathise with the suffering multitude, they would do the needful and set the country on the path of sustained development. But they would not. These are stone-hearted people who are bereft of the milk of human kindness. The Prophet attested to this when he said: “None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself.” (Al-Bukhari) A man without empathy will therefore be devoid of faith.
This hadith necessitates cognitive empathy. You have to firstly imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes and think from their perspective in order to understand what you would do in his situation.
A believer who has achieved excellence of faith will feel this special love for other believers. This is affective empathy.
The Quran stresses that righteousness is not in precise observance of the rituals but in acts of compassion and kindness.  It says that the litmus test for true belief and genuine worship is that it leads to compassionate living:
Goodness does not consist in turning your face towards East or West. The truly good are those who believe in God and the Last Day, in the angels, the Scripture, and the prophets; who give away some of their wealth, however much they cherish it, to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, travellers and beggars and to liberate those in debt and bondage; those who keep up the prayers and pay the prescribed alms; who keep pledges whenever they make them; who are steadfast in misfortune, adversity and times of danger. These are the ones who are true, and it is they who are aware of God.  (Quran 2:178)
This verse talks about a set of beliefs and then a set of good deeds, the intricate relationship between the two escapes many if not most. 
Every Friday in the second part of the sermon, Muslims all over the world hear a verse, which stresses, justice, kindness and natural mutual love as among the closest blood relatives:
Indeed, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed. (Quran 16:91)
He makes His relationship or His Providence to the common man, conditional to common human compassion, by claiming that those, who wish to find Him, will succeed only if they are kind and compassionate to the common people:
Fasting cleanses your soul and makes you appreciate all your blessings. Fasting humbles you; it makes you feel compassion for the poor who experience that type of hunger ev­ery day. At the end of the day, however, we have a big dinner; the poor don’t have that luxury. That is why Muslims are required to give zakat on an annual basis. Many choose to do this during Ramadan. This money is either given personally or through a charity. The main thing is that it must be paid.
We are taught to not only fast from food and drink but to try to refrain from conflict, anger and mean words. Our prophet (peace be upon him) says, “Saying a nice word is like giving to charity.” And he also said, “To smile in the face of your brother is like giving to charity.” We are to be kind and loving to each other. We are to be forgiving, not only in this month but in every month. But for some reason, this month brings out the best in everyone. 
During this holy month, we spend a lot of time reading our Quran: We also spend a lot of time praying, trying to help those who are less fortunate and performing good deeds, which in turn cleanses our hearts and souls. For one month, we truly do become less selfish, less self-cantered and more focused on what really matters in the world.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, in sharing his wishes, for all observing the holy month of Ramadan, urged action on behalf of millions of forcibly displaced people worldwide. “Through our reflection, we come to recognize that while words may reassure, it is only through action that we can truly see tangible change,” he said. “We continue to live in extremely complex times where violence is multiplied, conflicts are protracted and tens of millions of people are forcibly uprooted or on the move. This has created unprecedented levels of human suffering and desperation. “Millions of people like you and I are living in a constant state of conflict, insecurity and persecution: Their loved ones torn from them under inexplicable circumstances. Think of civilians in Syria or Yemen. Think of the plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, Bangladesh and the other countries to which they have fled”. And I urge you to also think of the castrated and emasculated people of Palestine: Pray for them and remember them. May Allah make it easy for us; Ameen.
Barka Juma’at and Ramadan Karim

-- 
Babatunde Jose iPhone 7

Beyond Ideas, means success is from God



                            By Bayo Ogunmupe
    In this massive book, Beyond Ideas, the most Reverend Felix Femi Ajakaye presents his dreams, visions and work in a church of God in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In his mission as the Catholic Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, Ekiti State, Nigeria; Ajakaye offers a potpourri of ideas on religion, politics, social justice and economic development. Here, Ajakaye affirms that for true success in life, fear of God, a positive attitude and disposition are as important as ability. He says these ideas are a foil for positive and concrete action. The book, Beyond Ideas was published in 2016 by Y Books, Ring Road, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. It has six parts covering religion, politics, sports and interviews in that order.
    Moreover, this first edition has 592 pages, seven pictures and nine pages of index. Within its 112 chapters, beyond Ideas is a compelling work of intellectual creativity that is worth your perusal and a place in your library. In his foreword to the book, the former vice chancellor of Ekiti State University and professor of law, Akin Oyebode called  the writer an activist-priest that is an endangered specie in a  Nigerian society wallowing in poverty and misrule. However, Oyebode admits that it is the calling of the priest to minister to the spiritual needs of the flock.
    For part one, here are some chapters for review to show the aims and intendment of this book. The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) as  the voice of the Catholic Church in Nigeria is the  first area of our examination. The CSN is an important organ of the Catholic Church. It is established to enlighten the people and report the activities of the church, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, whose headquarters it is. Rooted and founded on love as its motto, the CSN is the symbol of the unity of the Catholic Church. It typifies the oneness and sincerity of purpose of the Catholic Church. Ajakaye also tells us that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) holds two plenary meetings a year.
    The first plenary conference is held in Abuja a week after Ash Wednesday, while the second meeting is held in the second week of September. As we might have seen in a recent release from them; they discussed the plight of the people in the Nigerian nation. They issue communique to enunciate their position on political, economic and social issues plaguing the nation. Furthermore, the CSN promotes spirituality, efficiency, discipline, dialogue and community spirit. Under its secretary-general, the CSN has about 80 staffers manning four departments and the directorate of social communications. For now, the CSN is running two offices, one in Lagos and the other in Abuja. 
    As this book was being reviewed on Palm Sunday, just a week before Easter, I shall feature Ajakaye's sermon on Easter, tagged, The Risen Lord is our Light and our Helper. Easter is a great yearly Christian fiesta, it celebrates Jesus' resurrection from the dead, giving Him new life in God. Belief in Easter is crucial to the Christian faith; for in the celebration of Easter, Catholics and other baptized persons express their trust that the original sin can truly be overcome and that humans can hope to be with God forever in heaven. Ajakaye taught that Easter Sunday was a movable feast celebrated between March 22 and April 25 every year.
    In 325 AD the Council of Nicaea declared that Easter must be held each year on first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring. The Catholics didn't accept this method of dating of Easter until the 7th century Anno Domini. The church observance of Easter season lasts 50 days beginning with Easter vigil and ending with Pentecost Sunday. Alleluia-praise the Lord marks all prayers and songs of this season of Easter.
    "As most Reverend Michael Olatunji Fagun, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti once remarked, "If I want to employ a labourer to work on my farm and the same labourer begins to offer me money so that I can employ him, definitely there is something on my farm that he is interested in." Indeed, this is the style being employed by Nigerian politicians today. How I wish the electorate would ignore such selfish and desperate individuals and groups who practice this do or die politics and vote for credible people, irrespective of their party affiliations. I pray the Risen Lord who is our light and Helper will guide us to vote rightly and correctly. I also pray that He will give us the strength to monitor our votes as we march forward as a people, united in faith, hope and love." During Lent, Christians underwent renewal and spiritual rebirth.
    For another chapter, Father Ajakaye has this tribute for Dr Patrick Olusegun Olutola. "Dr Segun was one of the nicest persons I have ever met. He was God fearing, pious, intelligent, hardworking, noble, compassionate, enterprising, patriotic and humble. He was  very generous with his life and he was ever prepared to render help any day, any time and anywhere. He had concern for others and he was always ready to use his God-given talents positively  and concretely. In fact, in Canada, his family housed the Sisters of St Michael the Archangel at the initial stage of their foundation."
    According to Father Ajakaye, a week before Dr Olutola died in May 2008, Ajakaye visited him in Akure, after he had returned from his medical trip to India. Olutola was happy to receive him being the first time since Ajakaye was made coadjutor Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti in April 2008. They prayed together and the sojourner bade him farewell and four days to the author's 46th birthday, Segun died. The sojourner returned home to his Maker where he will experience true peace.
    For my choice from another part of the book, we shall examine socio political issues. Chapter 34 houses Lekwot's Trial: A Tragedy of Injustice. Mahatma Gandhi said: "When a man submits to another through fear, he does not follow his nature but yields to  brute force. Cowardice is not a sign of belief in God." This quotation summarizes retired Major General Zamani Lekwot's career. He and five others were accused of culpable homicide and sentenced to die by hanging. The judgment was given to suit the powers that be. It was on a power tussle between Zango, a muslim community and Katafs who are mostly christians in Kaduna State of Nigeria.
    The judgment was skewed to favour the muslims. Decree 55 of 1992 was enacted to deny the culprits the right to appeal. In the words of Gandhi again: "What is faith worth if it is not translated into action?" When you meet our limping former leaders today, you would never think they are reaping from their injustice of yore. The wages of karma are inexorable. The author, Father Ajakaye is the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti, Ekiti State of Nigeria. He was so ordained on July 4, 1987. He attended St Theresa's Seminary, Oke Are. Ibadan; St Peter and Paul Seminary, Bodija, Ibadan. He obtained his Diploma in Religious Studies from The University of Ibadan in 1984 and bachelor of Divinity of Pontifical Urban University, Rome, Italy in 1987. He capped it up with the M.A in Journalism from the University of Wales, Cardiff, United Kingdom in 1996. 
    Bishop Ajakaye was the pioneer editor of the Ekiti Diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Echo and also served as member of the Editorial Board of the Catholic Theologians Association of Nigeria. Ajakaye became the Bishop of Ekiti in April 2010, at the retirement of the Reverend Michael Olatunji Fagun now Bishop Emeritus of Ekiti.

Putting your imagination to work



                              By Bayo Ogunmupe
Putting your imagination to work is the subtitle of Creative Thinkering, one of the classics of the world's experts on creative thinking, Michael Michalko. This book is a wonderful manual on creative problem solving. Turn to any page, the idea machine in you cannot help but start manufacturing new ideas. The volume, a paperback, was published in 2011 by the New World Library, Navato, California, United States. Have you ever asked yourself "why didn't I think of that?" If so, this book is for you. In it, bestselling creativity expert Michael Michalko shows that in every field of endeavor, from business and science to lawmaking and governance, the arts and even day to day activities- our natural creativity is only limited by the prejudices of logic and our accepted tradition.
    Through step by step exercises, illustrated strategies and inspiring real world examples, Creative Thinkering will show you how to synthesize dissimilar subjects, think paradoxically and enlist the help of your subconscious mind. Thereby you will liberate your thinking and expand your imagination. The text has Creative thinking as part one. The creative thinker occupies its second part. It has 13 chapters, with its concluding chapter named Dancing in the Rain. It also has 236 pages, and within them are an appendix of 10 pages, notes on the texts cover eight pages and the index is of 10 pages.
    Michalko's purpose for writing the book is to emphasize the importance of conceptual blending in creative thinking in business and personal lives. Blending of dissimilar subjects, words, ideas and concepts is the most important factor in creative thinking. His topics include: we are all born spontaneous creative thinkers. How the thinking pattern we're taught in school prevent us from using our natural creativity. Why geniuses are geniuses and how geniuses use conceptual blending to create novel ideas. And how conceptual blending has inspired creative thinkers since the invention of fire.
Michael Michalko
    Conceptual blending allows information to intermingle in the mind; when people swap thoughts with others from different fields, it creates new, exciting thinking patterns for both individuals. Thus, nearly all technologies result from combinations of other other technologies with new ideas bubbling up. When you make connections between your subject and something unrelated, your imagination fills in the gaps to create new ideas. It is your willingness to fill in the gaps that produces the unpredictable idea. That was why the winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics Albert Einstein claimed that imagination is greater than knowledge.
    We are educated to be analytical and logical thinkers. We are taught to make common associations between subjects that are related such as apples and banana since both fruits. But our ability to associate only related concepts limits our penchant for creativity. We form mental walls between related concepts and concepts that are not related. Just as conceptual blending allows information to intermingle, the same way it has inspired creative thinking throughout history.
    Similarly, when two dissimilar subjects are blended in the imagination, new ideas that are formed are not only greater than the sums of their parts, they are different from the old subjects. A classical example that illustrates conceptual blending is the story of the German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg who invented printing. His moveable-type printing revolutionized the storage and transmission of information. Sadly, academic analysis of creative thinking altered the concept of creativity.
    Pedants took the simple process of blending and by fragmenting it into parts and giving each part a different name, they produced the illusion that creative thinking entails several complex processes. Indeed, what scholarly theories best illustrate is our tendency to fragment subjects into separate parts and ignore their interconnectedness. Scholars try to understand what creates waves by studying just one wave, ignoring the others. This results in confusion, which creates a barrier to understanding what creative thinking is in terms of ordinary thought and language.
    Here is an example of how people think creatively. "Jake Ritty's invention is an example of blending two elements from unrelated fields into an insightful solution. In 1879, Jake a restaurant owner, was travelling by ship to Europe. During the voyage, passengers were allowed to take a tour of the ship. In the engine room, Jake was captivated by the machine that recorded the number of times the ship's propeller rotated. What he saw in this machine was the idea of a machine that can count money collected from his restaurant."
    Ritty was thinking inclusively. His goal was to make his work as a restaurant owner easier and more profitable. After the tour, Jake asked himself, "How can I get a machine that can count money?" Consequently, he made a hand operated counting machine. Understanding how Jake got his idea of money counting machine is understanding the process of creative thinking. Michalko believes man's greatest discovery was the art of making and maintaining fire. This is followed by the invention of weapons, tools, storytelling, alliances, gods, and civilizations.
    Anthropologists speculate that the ancients observed spiders weaving to trap insects. By integrating the skill of weaving from spiders and hunting, the ancients were inspired to weave nets to trap small prey. Change the way you look at things and the things you are looking at will change; that is the title of chapter seven. And we see things as we are, rather than seeing things as they are. Which is why we see no more than we expect to see.
    In his conclusions, Michalko told stories about human potential and the people who have had the courage and will to overcome personal adversity. Interlarded in the book are thought experiments devised to inspire the reader's creativity. He named the book Creative Thinkering, enfolding Thinker and Thinking into one word: Thinkering which symbolizes how both the creative personality and the creative thinking process are inextricably connected. You choose how to live your life. You create your own reality. You choose to be the subject of your life and determine your own destiny by transforming yourself into a creative thinker.
    This book will help you transform yourself, much as a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. While the author was a youngster, one day he followed his grand father hiking. His grand dad stopped and picked a caterpillar. "Look at this, what did you see?" "A caterpillar" Michael said. Later, Michael said that there was nothing in the caterpillar that showed him it was going to be a butterfly."Exactly," his grand dad answered. "And there is nothing in you on the outside that shows others what you will become. When people tell you why you can't do something or become something remember the caterpillar. You cannot see what is going on inside the caterpillar, and they cannot see what is in your mind. Only you, like the caterpillar, know what you are capable of becoming," his grand dad concluded.
    Michael Michalko is a world renowned creativity expert. His clients range from Fortune 500 companies to associations and governments. As a U.S Army officer, he spearheaded NATO intelligence specialists in Germany to research, collect and categorize all known inventive thinking methods. His team then applied the solutions to NATO military challenges triumphantly. His best selling books include  Thinkertoys, ThinkPak and Cracking Creativity. He is the  person that can help Nigeria solve her problems of poor power supply, dilapidated infrastructure and national integration. He lives in Rochester, New York. His website is www.creativethinking.net. He posted this copy to me from his home in the USA.

Understanding Tithe and Tithing



                              Book Reviewer: Bayo Ogunmupe
         This book, written by Seyi Olawunmi was published in 2017 by the School of Success publishers, Lagos, Nigeria. From acknowledgements you will notice that the book was published by a pastor for pastors. A note from the author, Pastor Olawunmi affirms he was born in Nigeria 41 years ago and that he was born into the family of an orthodox christian. Understanding Tithe and Tithing has 148 pages, nine chapters, an introduction and an Afterword. It is replete with biblical quotations.
     We find that tithing precedes the laws of Moses, Galatians 3:26-29. The purpose of tithing is to teach the christian that he or she must always put God first in life. Tithing is the spiritual practice of giving back to God the first 10 percent of your earning. "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do says the Lord of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in. Try it. Put me to the test"- Malachi 3:10.
     The tithe is a tenth of a believer's income that is given to God in support of the church. It is a way of expressing devotion or worship of God. It started with Abraham and Jacob, continuing with the Pharisees and the Scribes whose practice warranted Jesus' statement on tithing in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42. As a reviewer, the author ought to have written out those quotations from Jesus as he said in Matthew and Luke. However, according to Olawunmi, throughout scripture, we're encouraged to give part of our resources to God as an expression of honor and gratitude.
     In the modern world, congregations have started to question the clergy on whether Jesus supports tithing? The authors answers may be found in the concluding chapters. The answers show the author believes we should support tithing if even Jesus did not expressly approve of it. Since Melchizedek was a priest before the law. he was not Levite. He collected tithe like the Levites. Christ is a high priest in the order of Melchizedek, so in today's christianity, we can collect tithe, that is the opinion of author Olawunmi.
    But the Levitical priesthood has been abolished and the order of Melchizedek remains Thus, according to the author, if the order of Melchizedek subsists intact, then Melchizedek was a type of Christ. The reasons provided include, that Melchizedek's name means: the king of righteousness; and the king of Salem made Melchizedek "the king of peace." And Hebrew 7:3 states- "Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God, Melchizedek remains a priest for ever."
    Thus, the author asserts, with a high priest in Christ, superior to Melchizedek, in this era of grace, it will be nothing wrong in giving our tithe in as much as we're all Abraham's seed and heirs according to God's promise of grace. Read Galatians 3:23-29 to amplify your comprehension. Aaronic- Levitical priesthoods which succeeded Melchizedek enacted tithing as an obligation to the priests  throughout Israel. Tithing is in fulfillment of the Covenant between God and Abraham, Jacob. that was why Abraham tithed from the spoils of his triumphs in war- meaning: we don't tithe to gain blessing; but that we tithe from the profit of our labour.
    Tithing was in fulfillment of a covenant made 430 years before Moses. Abraham/Jacob promised, that "of all that You give me, I will surely give a tenth to You"--Genesis 28: 20-22. Then, questions arose as to whether it is wise to tithe in the light of the controversy surrounding it. pastor Olawunmi countered those doubting Thomases by quoting 2 Timothy 3:16. The old testament established civil law, ceremonial law and moral laws. Today civil laws are not applicable. The ceremonial laws were abolished  by Christ.
    Examples of moral laws were the 10 commandments. These moral laws still persist under grace. However, without any specific quotation from the New Testament requiring humanity to tithe, pastor Olawunmi avers that the principle of tithing remains only the practice changes from one dispensation to another. For example, the shedding of blood for the remission of sin or forgiveness through blood is a constant principle. but the practice changed under the law making the blood of animals the requirement. Under grace, the blood of Jesus is the requirement,  hebrew 9:22.
The mediator between God and man changed, under law it was through Moses, but now it is through Christ. For there is one God and one mediator the man Christ Jesus-1 Timothy 2:5. So the law is our guardian and until Christ comes that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith is here, we're no longer under a guardian, Galatians 3:23-25.
    Pastor Olawunmi cites John Rockeffeller's firm belief in tithing as the reason for his immense wealth. He cites that Rockefeller tithed his first salary. Rockeffeller was a US millionaire  who lived between 1839 and 1937. At his peak net worth in 1913, he was worth $336 billion.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

OF RECKONING AND ACCOUNTABILITY 3: Judgement



“l believe the day of reckoning is here on earth but my experience of life shows it may not be for everyone. Some do get away with it here on earth. As to getting this judgement somewhere else am not too sure. Yes that may be the position of the scriptures and a very difficult position to verify.” Akin Uwaifor
It is understandable for some to hold this position, but judging from the philosophy of justice, the concept of retribution, judgement and reckoning is as old as the dawn of man’s realization of his position in the scheme of things. Our concept of moral values are intricately dependent on this core concept of justice and judgement. All the religions of the world have this common thread that runs through their belief systems; that is, the idea of accountability for actions of man. We must reap whatever we sow: It has become an immutable fact of human life. Without the concept of reckoning, the powerful will ride roughshod over the weak and the world will have no regard for the concept of right and wrong or what is acceptable conduct and behaviour. Society will be devoid of rules of human engagement and there will be no respite for the weak and powerless. It would be a situation of ‘dog eat dog’, of anything goes and ‘no one can question me’. The whole essence of morality would become none existent and the world will be in a Hobbesian state of nature, where life would ‘be nasty, brutish and short’. 
Oskar Ernst Bernhardt said: “You who are yearning for understanding, do not let yourselves be deceived. Each one of you in his thoughts and works has heaped up a heavy burden of wrong-doing for which each one of you must individually atone, for no part of it can be laid on the shoulders of another. Such is the law, otherwise Divine justice would be but an empty word, and without Divine justice all would crumble to ruins.” 
The realm of Day of Reckoning and Resurrection is more of a spiritual proposition than physical. It is this that explains why some of the wicked seem to be getting away with their iniquities while on earth.  It is often said that the hypocrites could be rich and wealthy, have many children and live a good life; but their end is never good. That end is usually in the Hereafter. In the non-Abrahamic religions, they talk of ‘karma’. Our conducts are to a large extent regulated, modified and subject to the possibility of the truth in that future state referred to as the day of reckoning. Our whole belief system has as its bedrock the possibility of that day when we will be held to account for our actions and inactions while on this part of the divide. This is the more reason why people want to be on the right side of morality.
“There is no partition between this life and life in the next world. All is an immense entirety. Like an extraordinarily ingenious, never failing mechanism, the whole mighty Creation, visible and invisible to us, interacts on itself. Uniform laws bear the whole, permeating it and connecting it like strands of nerves, in constant action and reaction.” Abdrushin:5 Responsibility.
Even the laws of physics recognise this simple principle of action and reaction which according to Newton’s 3rd lawFor every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It is inescapable. If you sow good, you will reap good, if you sow evil, you will surely reap evil. Those who sow the wind must for sure reap the whirlwind. 
Our evil men are therefore warned again. There will be no escape from the judgement and the attendant punishment. “God's justice remains austere and severe in His eternal laws. What a man sows, that will he reap: Divine justice does not allow that one farthing be remitted”.
In some cases, those who are seemingly wealthy from perpetrating evil could look as if they have escaped, but their names in the end are obliterated from the annals of history. Both they and their offspring’s are never remembered; as if they never existed. Why labour, for all the fruits of our work to be destroyed at the close of day. This brings to mind the story of the People of the Garden in the Quran:
 Indeed we have tested them just as We tested the People of the Garden when they vowed they would gather its fruit at dawn. (Quran 68:17)
“The separation of spirit from matter, the perfectly natural consequence of the working of the law, is the so-called Day of Judgment — a day that will bring great disturbances, convulsions and upheavals. Everyone will easily understand that this disintegration cannot take place in one earth-day, for it is written: “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8
Those who have ears, let them listen now!
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

REFLECTIONS ON RAMADAN FAST 1



Ramadhan is the [month] in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear [Signs] for guidance and judgment [Between right and wrong]. So every one of you who is present [at his home] during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period [Should be made up] by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. [He wants you] to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.  (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:185)
Muslims welcome the holy month of Ramadan with simple and minimal decoration as the holy month does not stand as a celebration but as a time for religious and divine reflection. It is a time for spiritual stocktaking and moral revival. It is a time of rejuvenation of religious and moral piety and reaffirmation of faith. Even the diehard and titular Moslems undergo a behavioral and attitudinal change during this month. The mosques are filled to capacity and the whole community assumes an atmosphere of religiosity: A time when even the confirmed sinners seek the benevolence of Allah; a time when evil and vile men seek atonement for their iniquities. Such is the month of Ramadan. Perchance, our leaders will take advantage of the promise of forgiveness from Allah to turn a new leaf and do the needful in making our life better and seek the path of righteousness. We have suffered enough as a people and this suffering does not need to continue. With the resources with which we have been endowed, there is enough for everyone to bask in the prosperity of our God-given provisions. But when a few conspire to deny the majority their rightful share of the commonwealth, they sentence the people into penury, want, misery and poverty. Ramadan is therefore, an opportunity for sober reflection and a chance for meaningful and positive change. 
Those who have perfected the ignoble art of cheating their fellowmen and converting the common patrimony into personal wealth have an opportunity to rethink and change. If only we know that the end is nearer than we think. 
Abu Huraira narrated that Allah's Messenger, said: "When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained." [Bukhari] Fasting in Ramadan is therefore a shield from Hell; fasting subdues sinful desires and reduces their severity: It is these desires and lusts that lead to Hell Fire.
The Quran talks about the reward of fasting and there are verses which general meaning infers that those who obey Allah will be saved from Hell, and fasting is a form of obeying Allah. The Ahadith of our beloved Prophet Mohammad, are clear in this regard; Abu Said al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah, said: "No servant fasts on a day in the path of Allah except that Allah removes the Hell Fire seventy years further away from his face." [Bukhari and Muslim]  Abu Said al-Khudri also relates that the Messenger of Allah said: "Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire"[Ahmad, Sahih]
`Uthman Ibn Abil-`Aas relates that the Messenger of Allah said : "Whoever fasts a day in the way of Allah, Allah places between him and the Fire a trench like that between heavens and the earth". [at-Tirmithi and at-Tabarani, sahih]
Ramadan (/ˌræməˈdɑːn/; Arabic: رمضان‎ Ramaḍān, IPA: [ramaˈdˤaːn]; also romanized as Ramzan, Ramadhan, or Ramathan) is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (Sawm) to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran. The month of Ramadan traditionally begins with a new moon sighting, marking the start of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. ... This is considered as the holiest season in the Islamic year and commemorates the time when the Quran is said to have been revealed to Prophet Muhammad.
Ramadan is considered to be one of the Five Pillars of Islam. During the month of Ramadan, adult Muslims fast from dusk until dawn, unless they are ill, pregnant, or diabetic, breastfeeding, or traveling.
There is also a verse in the Quran (Quran 2:185) that prescribes fasting for all Muslims who are mature and healthy enough to fast for the full day. So Muslims fast as an act of worship, a chance to get closer to God and a way to become more compassionate to those in need. May Allah accept our Fast as acts of Ibadah; Amin.
Barka Juma’at and a Happy weekend

Milestones: Alhamdullillah, our sister, Hon. Justice Kudirat Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and amiable wife of our brother AbdulFatah Akintota kekere-Ekun, marked her 60th Birthday with prayer and thanksgiving. May Allah continue to Guide and protect her.
On Tuesday, May 8, our daughter, Assia Atinuke Jose was a year older. We thank Allah who has preserved her, this far and we beseech Him to continue doing so. 
And next Tuesday, May 15, our son Ismail Jose will also be a year older. May Allah preserve him.
On Sunday, 13th May, another grandson of our father and son of our brother Abu; Ayyūb Jose will graduate from the university in far away, USA. Allah has been merciful.
Still on Sunday, our brother Enitan Ogunjobi (a grandson of our grandfather Brimoh Jose) will be giving  his daughter Olutosin away in marriage. May Allah bless the union.
Allah has indeed been merciful. Alhamdulillah!


-- 
Babatunde Jose iPhone 7

REFLECTIONS ON RAMADAN 2



O you who believe! Guard your own souls: If you follow right guidance, no harm can come to you from those who stray. The goal of you all is to Allah.
It is He who will show you the truth of all that you do.
The Quran 5:105
A deep reflection on the institution of Fast reveals the various ways in which fasting helps in the mending of habits and development of character and God consciousness. With the onset of Ramadan, it behoves each fasting person to open a page from the book of muhasabah (critical self-evaluation) and to reflect on what is being achieved through the month. What benefits are derived, which behaviors are adjusted, what good practices are adopted, which bad habits are being relinquished? How does the prayers and fasting of Ramadan influence attitudes and perspectives; how is it improving relationships with families, friends and neighbors; how much has it increased consciousness of responsibility towards the destitute; how is it impacting on the body, the heart, the mind and the soul. If there is a genuine effort towards the spiritualization of one's being, the moralization of consciousness, empathy in attitude and goodness in conduct; then perchance a concerted effort is being made of treading on the pathway towards the objective of fasting - the attainment of taqwa (piety). Truly, the month of Ramadan is a season for spiritual stocktaking.
In a world, increasingly amoral, perception is considered reality. How one appears to the world has overtaken the substance of who we really are. Taqwa is in reality character development coupled with God-consciousness. Character is not only the face in the mirror, but the real person behind the face. The pursuance of piety begins by making our reputation a reflection of our character. Reputation may be reflected in what people write about you on your tombstone, character is what angels report about you to Allah; and that is the most important.
Ramadan is an ideal training period for filtering out bad habits and developing virtuous character. It is therefore, a good time for our leaders to turn a new leaf, lest ‘we the people’ decide to chase them out like Oliver Cromwell did the ‘Long Parliament’ in 1653. Cromwell’s speech aptly reflects the character of our leaders today: “It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money. Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you has not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid prostitutes; have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; . . ..”  If only they would change in the spirit of Ramadan!
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Your practice of faith will not be correct unless your actions are correct, and your actions will not be considered correct unless your heart is correct.” Ramadan is therefore a period for spiritual rejuvenation as it offers the opportunity for a unique expression of worship.
From ethical and moral perspectives, we should contemplate the higher purpose and the deeper meaning of our lives, trying to live meaningfully; balancing our physicality with our spirituality.
While Fasting, we are far more aware of the hunger of the poor and the suffering of the oppressed and are therefore instructed to be more generous this month. This promotes attentiveness to social responsibility, interest in the welfare of society and inspires a continued spirit of generosity.  The Qur'an refers to the fasting ones as sa'ihin/spiritual wayfarers. So, the journey of Ramadan motivates each person to perpetuate the positive spirit being imbibed and to continue on the spiritual journey towards fulfilment and excellence.
It is easy to talk about the world’s problem of hunger. We can feel sorry that millions of people go to bed hungry each day. But not until one can actually feel it in one’s own body is the impact truly there. Compassion based on empathy is much stronger and more consistent than compassion based on pity. This feeling must lead to action. Fasting is never an end in itself; that’s why it has so many different outcomes. But all the other outcomes are of no real moral value if compassion is not enlarged and extended through fasting. It is therefore in the interest of our fasting leaders and those not fasting to shed the toga of iniquity, selfishness and corruption and for once think of the poor masses who are not only defenseless but also hungry. It is only by doing this that the fast can have spiritual reward and meaning. As the prophet Isaiah said, “The kind of fasting I want is this: remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor” (Isaiah 58:3-7)
May Allah accept our fast, Amee.
Ramadan Kareem and Barka Jumuah


ALHAMDULILLAH: It is with utmost joy and thanks to Allah that we announce the graduation of the last two children of our late sister, Muyiba Modupe Shoaga; yesterday Ahmed and Tayo Shoaga both graduated from the university in New Jersey. It is the culmination of a life of struggle and sacrifice. Allah has been merciful and all praise are due to Him. Shukra lilahi!