Book List For 2012

These are the books I would like to read in 2012:

The Secret History of the World – Jonathon Black

Killing Hope – William Blum

The Alchemy of Happiness – Al Ghazali

Al-Ghazali on the Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife: Book XL of the Revival of the Religious Sciences

Al Ghazali’s Path to Sufism

Islam, religion of life – Abdul Hakim Murad

The Time of the Bedouin – Ian Dallas

Sea Without Shore A Manual of the Sufi Path – Nuh Ha Mim Keller

Coming Back: Science of Reincarnation – A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Bhagavad Gita as It Is

1984 – George orwell

The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman – Malidoma Some

Prophet – Kahlil Gibran

The Awakening of Intelligence – J. Krishnamurti

The Great War for Civilisation – Robert Fisk (a quarter of the way through already)

The Brothers Karamazov -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

The Essence of Buddhism: An introduction to its philosophy & practise – Traleg Kyabgon (a quarter of the way through already)

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Are atheists morally superior to believers?

I just heard a believer in God say: “Let’s be honest, we’re human being right, we’re selfish creatures. I give charity because I want to go to heaven.’ But if he is doing it because he wants to ascend to the delights of the celestial world, but an atheist gives charity out of the goodness of their heart, doesn’t that make the atheist morally superior?

As I elucidated in my post ‘Do we need Religion in the 21st century‘, one of the main purposes of religion is not only to wake people up out of their somnolent slumber, but it trains a person’s ego and helps them redress their innate personality defects. One such innate personality flaw is the predisposition of selfishness. For religious believers, selfishness is sometimes accentuated because of the promise of heaven. But religion is not a one-dimensional, simplistic ideology created to appease people’s fears and desires. It’s a transformative training programme designed to elevate a human being so that they can reach their highest being. True, God does tell people to do good to attain heaven, but God knows our psychology.

If we weren’t given an incentive, human beings, generally, wouldn’t do good. Of course, this is a generalisation, but it applies to many, many people world-wide. Many atheists do good out of the goodness of their heart, and although they may not know it, they may be greatly in-tune with their spiritual side. Others, however, aren’t in tune with their spiritual side and therefore need an incentive to do good. The point is this: by constantly doing good, one eventually learns to do it without much thought, and eventually, they will do good – not because of a reward –  but because goodness will emanate from them naturally. This is the highest state of awareness a religious believer can achieve: when goodness emanates from them naturally.

This is the ultimate purpose of religion: it is suppose to wake a human being up and get them to stop performing religious rituals in a perfunctory manner, but in a way that exudes spirituality.

Ramadan is approaching: Why do Muslims fast?

The month of fasting for Muslims, also known as Ramadan, is looming. But why is it that Muslims fast?

Fasting is a Quranic injunction prescribed upon the believers so that they may attain self restraint (2:183). The idea of discipline is all about taming the human soul and not allowing the evil that often emanates from it to manifest into your daily life.  Fasting is undertaken to do exactly this: to discipline oneself.

Abstaining from food and drink is just one aspect of the fast: Muslims should also abstain from vain talk; raising their voice; using foul language; having sexual relations with their spouse (between dawn till dusk) and becoming angry. It is therefore a fast of the mind, body and soul.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is the month in which the Quran was revealed and is therefore held in high esteem amongst Muslims. According to Muslims, the Quran is able to govern a Muslims day to day life with instructions about every matter pertaining to life – it is therefore a holistic and complete book. It advises in 20: 81 “Eat of the good and wholesome things that We have provided for your sustenance, but indulge in no excess therein.” Ironically, Muslims seem to do exactly the opposite of this during Ramadan. Not only do they eat rubbish for both their morning meal (Suhoor) and their evening meal (iftar) but they end up over-eating. Not only is this contrary to Islamic teachings, but it often results in the gaining of weight.

Fasting is about the detoxification of the mind, body and soul after it has become corrupted throughout the course of the year. Fasting helps get rid of the toxins in the body and it also gives the digestive system a break ( a well needed one for some excess-eaters). It is also known that the person who can refrain from eating can stop themselves from indulging in other capricious activities.

Fasting, essentially, is about bettering oneself. It is a time for reflection and contemplation. To look at your character and improve it; to master your ego, and suppress your desires.

Like many other acts of worship, many Muslims treat fasting as a perfunctory ritual. When, in reality, nothing should be done in a perfunctory manner. It is the time, more than ever, to realize your spiritual dimension and return to the fitrah ( a human beings innate nature).