Some heart-soothing, heart-melting Qur’an recitation
Life, Purpose, Reality
- Metaphor and Meaning:
“Please, please, not yet. I hate tidying up, it’s so boring. It’s so tiring. It’s so unfair. It’s just bad. The only good thing about tidying up is when everything is nice and clean afterwards. Is there any way to get tidy without tidying?!”
“Hardships surround Jannah and exciting temptations beautify the path to Jahannam.
The daily “tidy up time” and the corresponding anguish and protest it elicits will forever serve as a metaphor that nothing worth having comes easy, and the path there is often not the least bit enjoyable either. It is only the satisfaction of exhaling in a clear and clean space that provides you with motivation to push through. One day the ‘space’ we declutter and strive for will be clear of hardships and pain, and clean of everything the soul finds undesirable. Until then, we toil… Excruciatingly stepping on Lego one piece at a time…”
Seeing the profound realities of life’s existence does not require wild escapades and immersion into other ways of living. It requires new eyes to look deeper into what is already there. The world around us is full of the signs of Allāh, and these fill the small and seemingly inconsequential as they do the grand and mind-blowing. Whether you are sat watching an ant carry away crumbs ten times the size of its body, or trying to wrap your head around the idea of dark matter, there is metaphor and meaning in it all. Access the deeper layers beneath the surface reality of the life that we live by scrutinising things for a moment longer. Some reflection can throw up unexpected and profound insights, even – and especially – amid the so very ordinary. Sometimes, it is not new horizons we need, but new lenses through which to look at the extraordinary truths already laid bare right in front of our eyes.
“Indeed! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding. Those who remember Allāh standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose; Glory is to You!”
— Qur’an (3:190-191)
Recommended YouTube Channels
- Hamza Yusuf. One of my most favourite scholars. The combined wisdom and knowledge – of literature, philosophy, politics, sociology, and more, from both Western and Islamic traditions alike – with which he speaks is astounding. Even if you do not agree with everything he says, it cannot be denied that his lectures offer some amazing insights into humanity.
- Yasmin Mogahed. An absolutely awesome scholar and speaker, Allahummabārik.
- Subhi Taha. Palestinian-Filipino, Muslim-American Subhi Taha is a YouTuber whose content I have enjoyed since 2013. Expect awkward humour, a distinguishing Texan accent, wonderfully embedded Islamic reminders, a characteristic ‘minimalistic-cultural’ aesthetic, and your extracting from his videos a unique sort of comfort from the general ‘normality’ of them. Subhi is “just an average Muslim-American”, living his truth: being Muslim, and being himself, as best as he can. Comfortably, and in a fun way, and in a way that is neither overly defensive nor reductive, when it comes to matters of Deen.
- Russell Brand. A wise one, a strange-in-a-very-good-way one, one who does not fit the ‘traditional’ mould of what ‘intelligence’ looks like. Humorous, ‘open’, idiosyncratic, and unpretentiously intelligent, Russell Brand’s ideas and short advice videos are real gems. I really believe so many of his views are perfectly aligned with Islamic ones, perhaps without his own being aware of this fact…
- ‘Smile to Jannah‘. “Conscious comedy, real issues and not reliant on immorality to make you laugh.” This is a brilliant YouTube channel whose content is ‘relatable’ and genuinely enjoyable to view, and whose messages are accessible for a range of audiences. Expect much cheesy humour (which is actually very funny, somehow!) in addition to many insights into the reality of this life, and into human psychology. Much-needed gentle reminders for us all, from someone who really ‘gets’ it.
- Lectures and infographic videos by Nouman Ali Khan. His Qur’anic explanations really do illuminate, and he conveys the Book’s messages in a way that is, I think, second to none.
Religion and ‘Spirituality’
The Test of Life
Stories / Reminders
Emotional Reassurance in Islam
- When NOT to give your Islamic Reminders
“What is a routine reminder to you can be an explosive trigger for others. Be cautious: if you are perceived as just another religious person reeling off verses like a robot, rather than a relatable empathic human being, then you risk pushing an already-distant person even further from the dīn.”
“Words are incredibly powerful. Human pain is hugely sensitive, and sometimes people’s relationship with their own faith can be complex and fragile. There is a subtle art to being able to deliver the right words of comfort a person needs and recognising when it is wiser to stay silent altogether.”
We humans are fundamentally emotional creatures. And emotional intelligence is arguably the most valuable form of intelligence that one can have; often, it is best expressed through “simple, sincere, and honest human interactions”.
- Videos by Mufti Menk, e.g:
‘Ilm and Da’wah
“Behind the ‘live your best life’ hashtags are people looking up in adulation at what is essentially a mirage.”
- Artificial Intelligence is Creating a New Madhab:
“These people are essentially living in two different worlds. They have different versions of what reality is.”
- Under Digital Threat: Muslim Children’s Spirituality
Hyper-stimulation and the ‘attention economy’. These things do have a significant impact on ‘spirituality’/religion.
“Human engagement with family, friends, and the community – together with hands-on learning, outdoor recreation, and development of ‘soft skills’ – are all part of the very broad menu of healthy development that we owe to our children.
In a world that is increasingly geared towards growth, output, productivity, and speed, we must actively take back the right to be slow, considered, and still. It is exactly there that the soul finds life.“
‘Freedom of Speech’ in France, against the postcolonial backdrop:
Uyghurs in China:
Miscellaneous (Podcasts etc.)
I am really loving the ‘Freshly Grounded’ podcast!