Your turn

“Every vessel, every container, will only pour out what is contained in it, and that’s very obvious. And so, your tongue is your ability to express what lies in your spirit: television, the movies, the friends you hang out with, the music you listen to. Everything around you is environmental forces that shape how your being is and how your heart is. And when you open your mouth to speak it’s like your heart is a sponge that absorbs all of this material from around you. Essentially what you’re doing is squeezing what is in you and what comes out is going to be what has been compiled in your mind and in your memory. Obviously you can only express in your heart what has been placed in it. And so in order for the outcome and the output from the tongue to be positive, the input in that needs to be positive: in spirit, in silence, in talking.. And throughout our lives.”

Now that Ramadaan has passed, I’ve reminded myself of the need to have positives in the ‘entertainment’ that I take in; and this is where I’d like to ask you – the readers of this blog – for some recommendations.

During Ramadaan, I was pleased to have had a big break from the “routine of entertainment” – you know, the forms of entertainment that become habitual, rather than necessary; and they don’t necessarily contribute anything good to your day to day life. You just watch/listen/take it in to pass the time; and because its what you always do.

But in Ramadaan, I did a lot more reading and – aside from some sport – watched very little TV. (Other than the Ramadaan shows we had on…but I recorded those and watched later, since I couldn’t stay to watch them at 4 a.m.) .

Anyway, I’ve got just 2 more episodes left to watch, and some reading material too. But, I see the danger ahead – once I’m done with those. Its so easy to fall into old habits, unproductive pursuits which you left for Ramadaan – but can be tempted towards again after Ramadaan; whether by actual temptation, or just plain boredom.

So, this post is about finding better forms of ‘entertainment’ and pastime: things that I’d like to make permanent and consistent, so that – in the words of the quote – the “input” is positive.

We sometimes under-estimate the effect that entertainment has on us, and for me, this period right now – right after Ramadaan – is an ideal time to evaluate what comes into us, what we absorb; and if we’re not truly happy with it, then change it.

That said, I’d like your recommendations on forms of entertainment, etc, that you would consider positive, or productive. It could be:

  • radio shows;
  • magazines;
  • newspapers;
  • websites;
  • tv shows;
  • basically, anything that fits the mould of positivity and/or productivity.

The only criteria is that its got to be aired/published regularly – and of course, the “positive/productive” theme as well. It doesn’t have to be Islamic-related either. Even documentaries about nature, for example, would do.

There’s a lot out there; and I’m sure we all have our favourites. So, rather than searching far and wide, I’d like this post to be a collection from all of you – a collection of your recommendations in this regard.

Obviously, many of us live in different places, so some recommendations may not be accessible to everyone. But instead of restricting this request to only things I could access here (Cape Town, South Africa), I want this topic to be open; so that wherever you are, and whatever it is you recommend, you can tell others about it. There may be other readers who are from your city/country, and it would be useful for them.

So, thank you in advance; and I hope this becomes a very useful resource for us all.



A bird’s eye view

While the world goes on below,
I am free, I am calm.
A place, so far from them all – yet
close enough to reach quickly.

On this day, I am thankful for
it’s absolute beauty.

That I am able to experience, in my life,
such beauty.
In the sky, almost…clouds so close,
the warmth of the sun, on this otherwise
chilly summer day.

I see the ocean on one side,
the mountains bordering them.
The bay on the other side:
foamy white waves, crashing
on the shore –

   So lively where they are,
   yet distant from where I sit,

Perched up here, the starlings
stopping by on occasion.
I’m in their world now:
a place high up, where
the beauty of this world
can be seen.

The world below stretches out,
but i look not at it,
for down there is activity:
busy-ness, and business;
running around; rushing here and there.

Work to do, people to call,
places to be.
I revel in this break – this
window of solitude.

A peaceful existence up here…

Back on earth, however, life goes on
as usual.
And though my window is shut
again, for now,
I am happy to have my perch, my safehaven…
for up there, I don’t need anything. I don’t
need anyone. It’s just me, the sky, the birds (on occassion),
and my Creator.

So rare – nowadays – are moments like this –
    a time to stop.
    a time to be free:
       free of my world,
       free of my usual reality.
A new world. A new vision.
Lying with one eye covered, i’m
almost floating in the clouds:
engulfed in blue and white;

no longer constrained by the physical limits down below:
    no buildings, no trees,
    no electricity or things to capture my time.
I am free of all that. I am free of the world.
It’s serene – being detached from it all;
being up where there’s nothing but fresh
air…no desperation, no deception,
no temptation…just here and now.

     Nothing else matters.
     Just here and now.


     I could die now…leave my life
     behind, because this is peace.
     This is my Blessed place.
     And i hope to always have
     this – or the like thereof…

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I hope Ramadaan is going as well for all of you as it is for me.  Its just amazing how uplifted you can be in a month like this; amazing how inspired you can be; and how much you can learn, how much you can be taught, how much you can realise…all in the space of 2 weeks.And making adjustments come so much easier;  realising what is better for you and making the necessary changes – all happen without much pain, because psychologically, we’re so open-minded this month; we *know* the value of this month, and the opportunities it brings. And I think that this is one of the most beautiful things about Ramadaan – how we have this enforced break from our usual lives – a chance to stop and reflect on who we are, what we do, where we’ve been and where we want to go.We have added incentives to be better Muslims.  We have more apparent opportunities to do good and be charitable.

There’s just so much about this month,  and I hope that our experiences this month will enrich us for the 11 months that come afterwards.
And we’re only halfway in the month.  So if you find you haven’t had the chance yet to do the things you wanted to do, make the effort you planned on making this month – you’ve still got 2 weeks. If you find that you did make a start, but have gotten sidetracked by other things happeningin your world – then don’t despair, because you’ve still got 2 weeks. If you feel like you didn’t make any plans at all, but something inside you has been stirred, awoken, and you want to do something about it – you’ve still got 2 weeks.

So,  I hope we all take advantage of our remaining 2 weeks, and cultivate that which we hope to carry on after this month leaves us.

Whether its:

  • Being more careful about your salaah;
  • Being more committed to the Quran (and trying to understand it, via translation/Arabic, if you speak the language);
  • Spending more quality time with your family;
  • Being more generous and charitable – not only with your wealth, but with your time, effort, and kindness;
  • Making more time for yourself, to try and find some peace from the world;
  • Being more careful about things you could say to hurt others;
  • Being more disciplined about your bad habits (smoking, junk food, etc);
  • Having better sleeping habits;
  • Reducing your indulgence in “entertainment” to a level that you need – instead of it being a habit; and replacing the unnecessary with more productive pursuits;

or any other effort you have made or want to make.

I hope we’ll all make these things – which are, in reality, some of the most important things in life – a priority that we give our time to in these next 2 weeks. Because if we do it now, if we make that investment now, we stand to benefit so much in not only the next 11 months, but hopefully the rest of our lives as well.

Don’t overdo it,  of course.  Don’t wear yourself out beyond your capacity.

But recognise that this is your chance.  We may not see another Ramadaan. And after this month, our lives may take dramatic turns which we had no idea would happen.

By making our intentions and efforts now, we’re preparing ourselves to live better lives, no matter what we may face in the coming months.

Peace be upon you.