A Month of Love – Striving for Prophetic Closeness

Let your diversity manifest the beauty that is within each of you. ~Habib Ali al Jifri, Toronto Grand Mawlid, Jan 1st 2014.

It’s the month of Rabi al Awwal, the month in the Islamic calendar when the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him was born. It’s a wonderful time to learn more about him, and to strive to improve one’s own character. Whether it’s reading a new (or old!) book, listening to audio lectures, sending blessings upon him, journaling, writing poetry, expressing yourself through other creative forms, there are so many ways to make this month one that is personally meaningful to you.

Last year I read two introductory accessible books about the Prophet that I found very beneficial:

a) Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong
b) In the Footsteps of the Prophet, by Tariq Ramadan

Learning Goals, Jan 2014.

Learning Goals, Jan 2014.

Both books taught me about the beauty of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, and showed me ways to become a better person. This year my goal is to follow a podcast by the Qalam Institute about the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda, my teacher in Dallas and to follow a series through the Muslim Chaplaincy at the University of Toronto called Embodied Light about the character of the Prophet. Instead of trying to listen to a certain amount of content, and trying to take copious notes, I’m going to strive instead for presence of heart when listening.  As I listen, during the month, I’m going to try to recite blessings on the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, as a way to become more peaceful on the inside. I’m in a life stage of much transition and change, and in need of a spiritual tune-up, and I’m hoping a month of love will help strengthen my heart.

What are your goals for the month ahead? Share in the comments below, and if you are sharing your reflections online as you go through the month, please do email or use the hashtag #amonthoflove so others can join in your learning as well.

Mosques Tell of Meaning, Direction and Settlement

Display at the Sultan Masjid, Singapore.

Display at the Sultan Masjid, Singapore.

I’m lost in a book. On the way to work, during lunch, on the way back home, and in every spare moment I can squeeze out of the day, I’ve been reading “In the Footsteps of the Prophet” by Tariq Ramadan, a biography of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) that extracts lessons from his life with love, thoughtfulness and careful attention.  It is a spectacular read, and accessible for any audience. Before I reflect on the book in its entirety though (I’m halfway through) I wanted to reflect on a passage I read today that has relevance for how we understand and address contemporary conflicts about the development of mosques.

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