Tools In Our Toolbox
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who turn unappreciative, GOD is in no need, Praiseworthy.
This life is an individual journey back to God. Each person must find the tools that work best for him or herself. What works for me might not work for you. So we can “borrow” tools from all kinds of places, finding the right tool for each one of us. I have found many of the principles and practices of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to be personally very helpful and they fit perfectly with the Quran.
For instance, remembering the Serenity Prayer: “GOD, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” [26:83] “My Lord, grant me wisdom, and include me with the righteous.
AA also encourages you to call your sponsor if you’re feeling weak, as God encourages us to consult with one another (42:38); to attend meetings, as we are encouraged to come together for Jumu’ah or Quran studies (62:9, 18:28); to help newcomers, as we are told to treat everyone in the best possible manner (17:53); to do service work, as God tells us to do righteous works (23:57-61); to be charitable, expecting nothing in return (76:7-9). They urge you to put your shoes under your bed at night, so first thing in the morning you have to get down on your knees to retrieve them, as God urges us to willingly bow and prostrate before Him (13:15, 22:77).
So, the tools in your toolbox can come from many places, whatever you find that works for your soul. We need to depend totally on God (22:15), remembering that this life is an illusion (57:20) and that we will be tested (2:214, 3:186), but that God never burdens any soul beyond what it can handle (2:286).
We want to run to the front of the line on Judgment Day and eagerly say, “Come read my record.” We especially want to avoid the “fire sandwich” which awaits the disbelievers.
[39:15-6] “Therefore, worship whatever you wish besides Him.” Say, “The real losers are those who lose their souls, and their families, on the Day of Resurrection.” Most certainly, this is the real loss. They will have masses of fire on top of them, and under them. A most miserable “fire sandwich”!
With the subtitle: Conditions for Staying Within God's Protection, 5:12 makes it clear what we need to do to earn God’s support and favor. [5:12] GOD had taken a covenant from the Children of Israel, and we raised among them twelve patriarchs. And GOD said, “I am with you, so long as you observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and believe in My messengers and respect them, and continue to lend GOD a loan of righteousness. I will then remit your sins, and admit you into gardens with flowing streams. Anyone who disbelieves after this, has indeed strayed off the right path.”
When we do the things we need to do, then God puts a protective force field around believers. We have to keep the field fully charged by using the tools in our toolbox. Satan will try to weaken the force field and slip in through the smallest crack. So, trust in God: [14:12] “Why should we not trust in GOD, when He has guided us in our paths? We will steadfastly persevere in the face of your persecution. In GOD all the trusters shall trust.” Implore God: [4:106] You shall implore GOD for forgiveness. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful. And never despair of His mercy: [39:53] Proclaim: “O My servants who exceeded the limits, never despair of GOD's mercy. For GOD forgives all sins. He is the Forgiver, Most Merciful.”
Use the tools in your toolbox regularly. They will never break or wear out. With use, they become increasingly more useful.
[Ed. note: This article was put together from notes from a khutba that Mike gave at Masjid Tucson last spring. Mike departed this world in August, and we miss him. But his example of devotion to God and steadfastness are great reminders to us, and we wanted to share his ideas of useful tools with submitters.]
Best System of Economic
God tells us in the Quran how a nation can prosper by following God’s commandments (10:98). One of the most important commandments is for people to give Zakat (the Obligatory Charity) to the poor and the needy. The practice of Zakat came through the prophet Abraham like the other religious duties of Islam (Submission to God alone). The minimum rate of Zakat is 2.5% of one’s net income, and it must be given away as soon as such income is received (6:141). The Zakat charity is the right of the poor (30:38) and is a means of cleansing our earnings and remitting our sins (2:271). It shows our appreciation to God for His blessings. Besides giving Zakat, which is obligatory, we are also encouraged to be charitable any way we can without being extravagant (25:67).
God specifies for us the order of charity. We should consider our parents first for receiving charity if they are needy. If they are not, we are asked to give to the relatives, the orphans, the poor, and the traveling alien, in this order (2:215). It is a beautiful and very efficient social welfare system which encourages us to take care of our immediate family and the needy people whom we know. Thus we are assured that our charity goes where it is needed the most.
Charity is Good For Both Sides
Some people consider charity a loss, and think that they should not be responsible for the misfortune of others. However, giving charity is the best thing we can do for ourselves. God tells us that we will be rewarded manifold for the charities we give (57:18). Thus, we not only help the poor and the needy by giving them their rightful share, we reap the benefits of charity by getting more blessings in return. Both the giver and the receiver of the charity are winners.
God knows best what is good for each individual as well as for any community.
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