The Environmental Crisis — A Spiritual Problem

I remember growing up hearing about the problem of the environmental crisis.

And honestly, I wouldn’t think much about it. Everything around me looked fine, while there were other problems that always seemed “bigger” and “more urgent”.

War. Famine. Poverty.

The problem of environmental crisis seemed just like a bad use of technology, and somehow I thought scientists would solve this problem with better technology.

However, in spite of many years of being aware of climate change, things have only gotten worse.

In fact, the effect of climate change is so drastic and taking place so fast that young people are wondering whether they’ll even have a habitable planet by the time they become adults.

In such dire situations, our minds immediately lookout for solutions. And the ones presented to us are:

  • Reducing carbon emissions
  • Conserving water
  • Reducing waste
  • etc

But if we have to find lasting solutions, we need to look deeper to understand what caused this crisis?

Was it just bad engineering? … Or something more?

The better we understand the problem, the more prepared we can be to address it.

Let’s start with asking “Why do we have an environmental crisis?”

Most people will trace the start of the crisis back to the industrial era. A time when man developed the technology to mass extract resources from nature for the purpose of economic growth.

The reality is that the environmental crisis did not start with the Industrial era. It started when man adopted a worldview of being separate from nature. Nature became a “thing” to tame, control, and master over.

The moment this worldview became the “truth” it transformed the systems of science, economics & engineering to serve this view.

  • Science became about dissecting nature to understand it.
  • Economics was about extracting from nature to profit from it.
  • Engineering was about controlling nature to meet economic demands.

The more progress we made in science, economics & engineering, the more the natural world suffered.

Fast forward to the present day.

The environmental crisis cannot be solved just by better science, economic policies or engineering.

This is not a secular problem.

This is a spiritual problem.

The problem was created at the level of man’s relationship with nature, which is based on a false premise of looking at nature.

Unless we change our relationship with nature, no amount of technology will solve this problem.

I mentioned earlier that the root of the environmental crisis was when man saw himself separate from nature.

So what was the worldview before that?

How did pre-industrial man view nature?

When we turn to sacred scriptures they all viewed nature as a living system, and man was part of this larger system.

As a Muslim I wanted to explore how the Qur’an on what’s a spiritual view of the natural world. Here are 5 verses that I found:

1/ Nature is alive

God calls nature its Ummah (Community)

“All living beings roaming the earth and winged birds soaring in the sky are communities (Ummah) like yourselves.” (6:38)

2/ Nature glorifies God

“Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth declares the glory of Allah; and He is the Mighty, the Wise.” (61:1)

3/ Nature contains the signs of God

“In the creation of the heavens and the earth,

in the alternation of the day and night…

in the beasts of all kinds…

in the change of the winds and clouds…

indeed are signs for people that are wise” (2:164)

4/ Nature has rights

In Islamic ethics, it’s not just humans that have rights. Nature has rights.

We see this in the laws around the treatment and use of animals, water & trees.

“And the heaven He raised and set the balance. That you do not transgress within the balance” (55:7-8)

5/ Man is care taker of nature

“Indeed, We offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man [undertook to] bear it…” (33:72)

Rituals connect with nature

As Muslims many of our rituals are connected with nature:

  • God has made earth the first mosque.
  • The timings of 5 daily prayers follow the sun’s movement
  • Before prayer we purify ourselves with water
  • Islamic calendar is based on the phases of the moon

I could see from the Quranic point of view, nature is not just “raw resources” that are a “means to an end” for an economic purpose.

Nature is alive, it glorifies God, it has rights, and we are the caretakers of nature. The rituals in Islam are deeply connected to nature.

When we see nature this way, it changes the way we understand science.

  • Science is no just about understanding nature by dissecting nature into parts. It’s about understanding the relationship between parts.
  • Engineering is no longer about extracting resources, but creating systems that are in harmony with the environment.
  • Economics is no longer about maximizing profits, but creating policies to meet the needs of the whole.

And once we change the way we approach our sciences, it will no longer be destructive. It will be in harmony with nature.

Therefore as Muslims and spiritual seekers, we have an important role to play. It’s to remind first to ourselves and then to those around us that nature is not some machine that needs to be fixed.  We cannot solve this problem by outsourcing it to scientists.

The environmental crisis is a deeply spiritual problem. In order to solve it, we have to rediscover the role of nature in Islam and the Qur’an. How it connects with the world view and rituals.

In bringing peace within through practice, will create peace outside with the natural world.

Man’s Big Plans

Prophet (‘S) took three sticks and set one of them in front of him, another one next to it, and the third far away from the two. He then asked, ‘Do you know what this is?’ to which they replied, ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said, ‘This one is man, and this is death [next to it], while that one is expectation, which man entertains [about his long life], but death falls upon him prior to his expectation.’

Top 10 Sufi Comics

During an interview, a journalist asked me my top 10 favorite Sufi Comics.

I didn’t have a list, so I decided to make one. 🙂

Here are my top 10 Sufi Comics, in no particular order:

1. Mother
Suficomics_Mother

 

 2. How far is heaven
How far is heaven

 

3. The Headache
The Headache

 

4. Good manners melt a hard heart
Good manners

 

5. Where is God’s Treasure?
Where is God’s Treasure

 

6. Follow principles
Follow-principles

 

7. No Problem
No Problem

 

8. Take benefit of 5 before 5
Take benefit

 

9. What is Knowledge
What is Knowledge

 

10. Simple secret to Inner Peace
Key-to-Inner-Peace

 

How Realizing That God Is The Ultimate Owner Of Everything Makes Us Stronger

Letting go of grief

 

Loss is an eminent part of our life.

Philosophers have for long meditated on the nature of loss and concluded that the world around us is ever changing!

In fact change is the only permanent element of the physical realm. Everything else is transient. And loss is just another aspect of this constant change.

But we humans are emotional beings. Dry logic doesn’t appeal to us in time of need. And thus we are left grappling with the question of the aftermath of ‘loss’ and ‘change’ – grief!

Have you ever lost somebody or something you love? How did it feel?

For me losing a cherished object or relationship is all consuming. I tend to forget my surroundings and can think only of the severance. A drama plays out in my heads, about the joy I had derived from the object (or relationship), how empty my life will be without the source of happiness and obviously the ever-green and popular ‘The world is unfair and everything nasty happens to me’.

I am sure most of you have your own version of this litany and can identify with what I go through.

We can find comfort in knowing that this is only natural. As a part of our ‘human’ legacy we have been blessed with the ability to hold on to things and even intangibles like opinions, concepts and relationships and give them a special kind of meaning only we can relate to. In fact we make sense of the world around us through these objects and precepts.

It doesn’t really matter if the loss pertains to something replaceable like a phone or something far more valuable – like an idea or a relationship, our instinct is to focus on what it meant to us and our life and lament its loss.

With each little something we lose, we lose a part of our identity and existence and yes, that is bound to hurt.

Doomed To Grieve? Why You Should Make An Effort To Let Go!

Grieving is a natural process we go through when we lose something. And it is okay to mourn.

For a while!

But it is definitely not natural or healthy to fall victim to the ‘rut’ of unhappiness and distress and taint everything in your life with its effect.

I have frequently crossed paths with individuals who never recover from the loss of an idea, an object or a relationship. They walk through life unaware of the several hundred other blessings God has showered on them. As a result they:

  • Lose touch with reality and can’t successfully get on with their daily life.
  • Allow their healthy relationships to degenerate into loveless, compassionless interactions.
  • Invite into their lives hundreds of diseases like cancer, immunological dysfunction and hypertension. Without good health, coping with grief becomes even more of a challenge.

None of the scenarios are appealing and prolonged grief is now officially treated as a disorder.

There is a simple way using which you can take a more rational and ‘god-centric’ approach to the whole concept of loss and mourning. Let me share this with you!

Surely We Belong To God And To Him Shall We Return:

In Muslim culture, when someone hears the news of a person passing away, the first words to utter are:

“Inna lilahe wa inna ilayhe rajaoon” (Quran 2:156)

For a long time I didn’t understand the meaning of this line and thought it’s something people said just to console the bereaved.

But when I took time to look up its meaning, I felt it had a very profound message; a message that can help people overcome their grief by pointing them to a universal and divine truth! “Inna lilahe wa inna ilayhe rajaoon” literally translates into “Surely we belong to God, and to Him shall we return”

I found that by meditating on the meaning of this verse, I could think of all the objects in my life as transient. I understood (or rather re-realized) the fact that no matter what I did, how well I performed, how much I loved or how hard I held on to something, I was not its rightful ‘owner’ and I would not be able to stake permanent claim on it!

In the end everything, including I myself, will leave the physical plane and begin the journey to reach and become one with His divine light.

As soon as I stepped into this mind-set, I could let go of the scarcity mentality. Even something as pragmatic and mundane as a goofed presentation no longer mattered because it was just one opportunity out of a thousand and since nothing was permanent, something better would come along eventually. The important thing was to praise my courage for taking action!

Every day through the magic of “Surely we belong to God, and to Him shall we return” I focus my attention on the lessons I can learn from my loss and the whole experience.

Putting Wisdom Into Action:

My advice is: Whenever you’re suffering from grief, meditate on the verse “Surely we belong to God, and to Him shall we return”

Through this gem of a thought you can perceive things around you for what they truly are – a form of trust, given to you for safe-keeping, which will ultimately change hands or revert to their ultimate owner, God our Lord.

Once you make this reality a part of your life, you will no longer feel a sense of debilitating grief when you lose or have to give up on something (or someone) precious to you. Instead you will be able to dissect the experience and ‘introspect’ to gain insights like:

  • What can I learn from this?
  • What can I do to change my situation?
  • How can I grow?
  • What area do I need to improve on?

This exercise will leave you enriched after every loss or severance. You will be full with the knowledge of how the world functions and what you can do to elevate yourself and your skills to make the most of your life and opportunities.

Loss is inevitable! Grief is natural! But it shouldn’t be protracted and all consuming. Grieving for something makes you a gentle human being capable of appreciating value but letting go makes you someone with courage and fortitude.

Remember God owns every grain of sand and every puff of wind on this earth and by entrusting your cherished possessions to his care; you can relax and move on with your life.

[Giveaway] Win the entire Sufi Comics Collection!

Sufi Comics Giveaway

Enter the Giveaway to Win the Entire Sufi Comics Collection!

Enter the Sufi Comics giveaway to win signed copies of the entire collection!

The Books will be signed by the Authors & Artists, and shipped to you in any part of the world.

The prizes are three books, 40 Sufi Comics, The Wise Fool of Baghdad and Sufi Comics – Rumi.

We would love for you to enter the giveaway to get a chance to win. All that is required is to pop in your email address on the giveaway page, and share the giveaway link with as many people as you can to increase your chance of winning.

Click here to enter the giveaway

Once you’ve entered make sure that you share it on your social media platforms, email, and forward to as many people as you can.

You could share the following message: “Enter the @SufiComics #giveaway to #win the entire collection! http://goo.gl/ktU9ox

Let us know when you’ve entered by tweeting us or in the comments below.

Best of luck!

Follow @SufiComics on Twitter 

Like Sufi Comics on Facebook

7 Spiritual Steps From the Qur’an for True Happiness

Generosity and Quran

Someone wise once said, ‘Happiness is the goals of all goals!

If you ask people why they do what they do, you’ll find “being happy” is behind every single human goal, mission, objective and wish to achieve that “something”.

Happiness not only leaves us with a positive feeling in the center of our being, people who tend to stay ‘happy’ also:

  • Enjoy their work a lot more
  • Suffer from less anxiety and tension
  • Can make creative contributions to their projects and the society
  • Spread goodwill and cheer
  • Accomplish a lot
  • Lead more fulfilled lives without heeding the rat race around them
  • Make the world a much better place with their sunny temperaments and easy smiles

Compare these desirable states with the mind-set of an individual mired in negativity. You’ll find that they:

  • Complain very often – leaving everyone around them dissatisfied
  • Rarely get anything done.
  • Creative drive is sub-zero.
  • Have poor health and get stressed easily

So how does one become happy?

Some of the latest psychological findings suggest, happiness is the effect of behaviours we choose to make a part of our lives.  By adopting these behaviours, happiness becomes a natural state we live in.

It is truly reassuring to see how the Holy Qur’an advocates these principles. Here are 7 principles from the Qur’an that will help you lead a life of lasting Happiness. read more…

So much inequality. Why doesn’t God do something?

#BAD2014, #Inequality, Blog Action Day

#BAD2014, #Inequality, Blog Action Day

We live in a world of stark contrasts.

A world where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

A wealthy businessman spends £3 billion on a yacht made from solid gold and platinum, while 300 million children around the world go hungry every day.

The richest 300 people in Europe and North America have the same income as 4.7 billion poor people.

Citizens around the world struggle for their basic rights and freedoms, whilst powerful and corrupt leaders still rule.

Inequality surrounds from the top to the bottom. We only have to go outside to witness it.

And it’s depressing. What can one man or woman do? It seems like only divine intervention can get us out of this mess.

But the Qur’an has something different to say. “Allah does not change the condition of people until they change what is in themselves.” (13:11)

It’s so true.

Society doesn’t reform, till the individual takes responsibility for their actions. Think about it. How can society reform if the individual doesn’t care enough to take any action?

Change begins with ourselves. It starts with us. It starts with me.

Today is Blog Action Day 2014! Join the global conversation about Inequality, with people around the world. Tweet #BAD2014. 

[Reflection] Kiran Ashraf on personal responsibility in creating a fair and just society

sufi-comic-Why-doesnt-God-do-something

Kiran Ashraf presents a personal account of spiritual inspiration on the importance of individual and collective duty in creating a fair and just society. In her piece she presents what inspired her to take action and calls on others to become aware of  their responsibility to help others.

“This country is a failure”

“I don’t know when the poverty around the world is coming to an end”

“It’s the fault of the rulers. Obviously they are the ones to correct things”

Sounds familiar?

Each and every one of us in our lifetime has either come across or ourselves have been caught uttering such hopelessness. We either blame the rulers, the system, some person and many of the times God as well for such misery surrounding us.

By no means I am suggesting that we are wrong in pointing out the faults of the ones responsible but the question remains that have we ever tried to correct the situations ourselves?

Have we ever even tried a little bit to come forward and take this responsibility on our very own shoulders? I don’t think most of us would be nodding their head in agreement right now.

To tell you the truth, I myself at one point in time was the same sort of a person who would just be critical about the circumstances around. I was circled by cruelty, bias, injustice and other malign practices and all I did was to sit at home and cringe about them.

The best I thought I could do on my part was to post about them on the internet because physically getting into the mess to clear it was nowhere near my mind; it was more of impossibility.

Then came the day when I heard a Hadith of Prophet Mohammed where he declared that, “Your leadership will be a reflection of you [the people].”

It literally shook me from inside.
read more…

Announcing: Get a Free copy of our next book on Rumi!

Untitled

Yes, you’ve heard it right! How will I get a free copy of  Sufi Comics: Rumi book, I hear you ask?

You’ve been enjoying updates on Sufi Comics – Rumi, you’ll know that the journey and process of creating the book has been an exciting and an a fruitful one to say the least!

So far in our updates we’ve revealed to you:

  • Behind the Scene Sketches
  • Process Thumbnails to illustrations
  • Excerpt of a story
  • Interview with the Artists & Authors
  • Designing the cover page illustration

We’ve  completed around 70% of the book, which will go to print this August with the official launch in September.

There is an exciting opportunity for interested readers like yourself to join an “early-bird” Pre Launch list.

Before the book is released to the public, a digital version of the book will be made available to read online exclusively to those on the list.

That’s not all. Get 1 Copy Free!

By joining the Pre-Launch list, not only would you be the first to read the book, as a special gift you could receive 1 signed physical copy of the book anywhere in the World!

This offer is now closed

Thank you to all you who’ve participated! You still view 3 chapters from the book for free.

Click here to view 3 Chapters from the book

 

Pin It on Pinterest