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Stoning the Devil


Hajj - Stoning the DevilWhen we stone the devil, are we not in fact stoning ourselves? We each make choices in our lives. Surely we are guided and influenced in many directions, but ultimately we make our own choices. We make our own decisions, good or bad. We are who we are, not because of the devil or because someone has forced us into becoming who we have become.

At every step, whether we have been enveloped in love, or subjected to hate, we can choose how we decide to walk away from a situation. We can choose to nourish our hearts, or feed the disdain. We can spend our time ridiculing others, be it the devil, or someone who might seem different to our own sensibilities, but we must ask if this truly brings us closer to the divine. Do we shine brighter, or are we in reality tarnishing our own soul?

We each have much to offer, even if we can’t quite understand the person or the devil beside us. So we can spend our time contemplating someone else’s ill thoughts and behaviors, or we can work to improve our own. Ridicule and hate can never bring love and peace. They can only be stifled until we are ready to truly accept them.

Set down the stone, and remember the true strength it takes to put it down, and share it.

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Blind Rituals


Five Pillars of Islam

Is praying five times a day more important or is our relationship with God more important? Is fasting and abstaining from certain foods and activities more important, or is our relationship with God more important? Is making a pilgrimage to a holy site more important, or is our relationship with God more important? Is tithing and giving a certain percentage of our income more important, or is it the intent that drives the giving more important? In many religions there are rituals that we follow. Some are done because they are deemed as laws handed down by God. Some are done because it has been done for centuries. And still some are done because religious leaders say they should be done. How do we know who is right? Everyone has been following the same way for as long as anyone can remember, so how can it be any different? Could it be that the actions themselves are not so important, but instead it is the intent that drives them?

When we pray or meditate is the reason to ask for something for ourselves or for someone else, or is it to give ourselves to God? In prayer do we not bear ourselves to God? Do we not unload our worries and give our thanks for the life we live and the things that are given to us? Do we not ask for guidance and perhaps assistance in our daily lives? In doing these things, are we not building a relationship with God?

When fasting or abstaining from sex, do we do these things because it is said we should? What is the purpose? Is it not to remind us of the many blessings that God has given us and also of the many distractions that divert us from Him? Is it not to show us that if we build a proper relationship with God that nothing can distract us, neither the temptation of physical gratification, or the hunger pangs that our body might feel?

When giving to the poor, does one do it because they are made to do it? Is it done out of obligation or out of the kindness and generosity of one’s heart? If a person gives and then counts their losses, are they giving freely for lack of want, or out of the expectation of a divine reward? In giving freely, are we not reminded of our own blessings? In giving freely, are we not reminded that the shoe could be on the other foot?

Instead of blindly following rituals and laws written by men long before we can ever remember, perhaps it’s time to ask why we do the things we do? Perhaps it’s time to build our own relationship with God. Instead of chastising others for how they choose to worship God, perhaps it’s time to start looking at ourselves.

   

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