The Month of Ramadhan: A New Leaf Everyday for a Better World

Note from the editor: “A New Leaf Everyday” is a compilation by Simerg of verses from the Holy Qur’an, the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) and excerpts from speeches and farmans of Ismaili Imams (or their family members) that are pertinent to the message on a different leaf which has been presented (almost) everyday on this page since the start of the month of Ramadhan on June 6, 2016.  The photos of the leaves were either taken by us during our visits to the Aga Khan Foundation’s Together-Ensemble mobile exhibition, which is currently on a cross-Canada tour, or sent to us by the exhibition’s tour manager, François Grenier, to whom we express our deep gratitude. The leaf messages were penned down by visitors to the exhibition.

(IX): CHARITY

Together-Ensemble8 year old Hannah Saikaley’s wants to help by “Donating food, money, drinks and clothes and by cleaning the earth.”

“And perform the prayer, and pay the alms; whatever good you shall forward to your souls’ account, you shall find it with God; assuredly God sees the things you do.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:110, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“Those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms — their wage awaits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:277, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“If you publish your freewill offerings, it is excellent; but if you conceal them, and give them to the poor, that is better for you, and will acquit you of your evil deeds; God is aware of the things you do.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:271, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“Charity obliterates sins just as water extinguishes fire…Save yourself from the (Hell) Fire even with half a date (to be given in charity); and if you do not find a half date, then with a good pleasant word.” — Traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), 570 CE – 632 CE

“Do not feel ashamed if the amount of charity is small…Charity and alms are the best remedy for ailments and calamities…If you want to pray to Allah for better means of subsistence, then first give something in charity” — Hazrat Ali (a.s.), 599 CE -661 CE, 1st Shia Imam.

Date posted: June 17, 2016.

Recommended: Please visit Qur’anic Corpus for several parallel translations of the Holy Qur’an in English, verse by verse.

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(VIII). BE NICE

“A kind word with forgiveness is better than almsgiving followed by injury. Allah is Absolute, Clement.” — Holy Qur’an, 2:263, Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Translation by M. Pickthall.

“The servants of the All-merciful are those who walk in the earth modestly and who, when the ignorant address them, say, ‘Peace'” — Holy Qur’an, 25:63, Sura al-Furqan (The Criterion), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

“When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things.” — Holy Qur’an, 4:86, Sura An-Nisa (The Women), Translation by Yusuf Ali.

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - VIII To be nice

“The believer does not defame, abuse, disparage, nor vilify…The strong person is not he who has physical strength but the person is strong if he can control his anger.” — Traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s.), 570 CE – 632 CE

“You should not speak ill of other religions or ridicule anybody” — His Highness the Aga Khan III, (1877-1957), 48th Ismaili Imam, Precious Pearls, #66, Page 47, Ismailia Association for Pakistan.

“Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.” — Holy Qur’an, 7:199, Sura Al-A’raf (The Heights), Translation by M. Pickthall.

“The best deed of a great man is to forgive and forget…Courtesy costs nothing, but buys everything.” — Hazrat Ali (a.s.), 599 CE -661 CE, 1st Shia Imam.

“You should be united. Our religion preaches that we should let bygones be bygones. Even if one harms you, you should forgive him.” — His Highness the Aga Khan III, Precious Pearls, #85, Page 57, Ismailia Association for Pakistan.

“I would also like you also to remember that you should at all times live within the spirit of Islam. This means that you are brothers and sisters and that whenever any one of you has difficulties, troubles or needs help or wants guidance, you should always help each other.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Gujranwalla, Pakistan, November 26, 1964, Farman Mubarak, Ismailia Association Pakistan, Part II, Pg. 22.

“You must be humble, as it is one of the greatest [forms of] worship.” — Hazrat Ali (a.s.).

Date posted: June 15, 2016.

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(VII). HELPING PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD
Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - VII Serving Around the World

Reflection(s) from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“I have been impressed by recent studies showing the activity of voluntary institutions and not-for-profit organisations in Canada to be among the highest in the world. This Canadian spirit resonates with a cherished principle in Shia Ismaili culture — the importance of contributing one’s individual energies on a voluntary basis to improving the lives of others.

“This is not a matter of philanthropy, but rather of self-fulfillment — ‘enlightened self-fulfillment’.

“During my Golden Jubilee — and this is important — six years ago Ismailis from around the world volunteered their gifts, not only of wealth, but most notably of time and knowledge, in support of our work. We established a Time and Knowledge framework, a structured process for engaging an immense pool of expertise involving tens of thousands of volunteers. Many of them traveled to developing countries as part of this outpouring of service — one third of those were Canadians. Their impact has been enormous in helping us to achieve best practice standards in our institutions and programmes, making us we hope an even better partner for Canada!” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Ottawa, Canada, February 27, 2014.

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“In the Shia Ismaili Muslim tradition, voluntary service to others is viewed as an integral and positive part of daily life, and never as a burdensome obligation or an elective activity. Service is a means for each individual to actualise Islam’s ethics of inclusiveness, of compassion, of sharing, of the respect for life, and of personal responsibility for sustaining a healthy physical, social, and cultural environment.

“Generosity is fundamental to this concept of volunteerism: generosity of material resources, of time, of thought and of knowledge. The importance of the donation of time and financial resources is widely recognised. The other two elements are not. Thought helps others to help themselves. Knowledge enables the educated to provide technical information to the less educated on how to meet their own needs better and serve others.” — Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Edmonton, Canada, August 25, 1998.

Date posted: June 13, 2016.

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(VI). HOW TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - VI Make World A Better Place

Reflection(s) from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“If our animosities are born out of fear, then confident generosity is born out of hope. One of the central lessons I have learned after a half century of working in the developing world is that the replacement of fear by hope is probably the single most powerful trampoline of progress.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Germany, May 20, 2006.

“The effective world of the future will be one of pluralism, a world that understands, appreciates and builds on diversity. The rejection of pluralism plays a significant role in breeding destructive conflicts, from which no continent has been spared in recent decades. But pluralist societies are not accidents of history. They are a product of enlightened education and continuous investment by governments and all of civil society in recognising and celebrating the diversity of the world’s peoples.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Oslo, Norway, April 7, 2005.

Date posted: June 11, 2016.

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(IV) AND (V). POVERTY AND BEING HELPFUL: ISLAM’S CLEAR MESSAGE WITH AN EXAMPLE FROM THE LIFE OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD (MAY PEACE BE UPON HIM)

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - IV Less Poverty and How to Help

Reflection(s) from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“…A state of poverty is a state of deprivation with respect to health and nutrition, education and security, housing and credit, and all the other conditions which are essential to human well-being.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Berlin, Germany, November 13, 2007.

“Our duty is to try to free people from poverty. And to me, poverty means being without hope of ever controlling one’s own destiny. This means condemning one’s children and grandchildren to unacceptable living conditions.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, November 27, 2007, Madagascar.

“Islam has a very clear message about the different forms of generosity. There is that with regard to the poor, which takes the form of gifts. But the recipient remains poor. There exists a second form of generosity that contributes to growing the independence of the person. This concept, in which the goal is to make the person the master of their destiny, is the most beneficial in the eyes of Allah” [see example from the life of Prophet Muhmmad, below – ed]. — His Highness the Aga Khan, Interview L’Express, July 4, 2007.

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Firewood

It is related that when an Ansar (Helper) came to Prophet Muhammad and begged from him, he asked him whether he had nothing in his house. When the Ansar said that he had a piece of cloth, which he used for wearing as well as for spreading on the ground, and a wooden bowl from which he drank water, the Prophet told him to bring them to him, and when he did so he took them in his hand and asked, “Who will buy these?” When a man offered a dirham, the Prophet asked twice or thrice. “Who will offer more than a dirham?” and the Prophet gave them to a man who offered two dirhams. He then took the two dirhams and giving them to the Ansari he said, “Buy food with one of them and hand it to your family, and buy an axe with the other and bring it to me.”

When he bought the axe, Prophet Muhammad fixed a handle on it with his own hand and said, “Go gather firewood and sell it, and don’t let me see you for a fortnight.” The man went away and gathered firewood and sold it. When he had earned ten dirhams he came to the Prophet and bought a garment with some of them and food with others.

Date posted: June 9/10, 2016.

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(III). TOGETHER AND PARTNERSHIP

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday - III Together-Unity
Reflection from Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble which is currently on a cross-country Canada tour.

“And obey Allah and His messenger, and dispute not one with another lest ye falter and your strength depart from you; but be steadfast! Lo! Allah is with the steadfast.” — Holy Qur’an, 8:46, Sura Al-Anfal (The Spoils of War), Translation by M. Pickthall.

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“One event which I witnessed was a boxing match between two Ismaili boys – one African, one Asian. I saw a good fight and, at the end, I think each of them thought he had won….At the end of this sporting event, the two boys shook hands and stood together to be photographed. To me this symbolised the partnership between different races which I am convinced is the only condition of peace and prosperity….I most strongly urge the Ismaili community to work hand in hand with all other citizens” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Kampala, Uganda, Ceremonial installation (Takhtnashini), October 25, 1957.

“With humility, tolerance and respect for each other, by honest work and straight dealings, you will earn the true friendship of your fellows…By the way you conduct your daily lives, by the compassion you show to your fellow men and women, and above all by your faith in God – you will ultimately be judged” — His Highness the Aga Khan, Takhtnashini, Mumbai, March 11, 1958.

Date posted: June 8, 2016.

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(II). NATURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Ramadhan - A New Leaf Everyday

“It is He who sent down out of heaven water, and thereby We have brought forth the shoot of every plant, and then We have brought forth the green leaf of it, bringing forth from it close-compounded grain, and out of the palm-tree, from the spathe of it, dates thick-lustered, ready to the hand, and gardens of vines, olives, pomegranates, like each to each, and each unlike to each. Look upon their fruits when they fructify and ripen! Surely, in all this are signs for a people who do believe.” — Holy Qur’an, 6:99, Sura An-An’am (The Cattle), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

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“The Qur’an refers very often to nature as a reflection of Allah’s power of creation, and it says, look at the mountains, the rivers, the trees, the flowers, as evidence of Allah’s love for the people whom He has created. Today, I look at the environment and I say to you, I believe Allah is smiling upon you, and may His smile always be upon you.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, speaking in a mountainous setting in Badakhshan in 1995.

“There are many, many interpretations of Islam within the wider Islamic community, but I think one on which there is greatest consensus, is the fact that we are trustees of God’s creation, and we are instructed to seek to leave the world a better place than it was when we came into it. Therefore, the question is: What is a ‘better place’, in physical terms? And that ‘better place’, in physical terms, clearly means trying to bring values into environments, buildings and contexts, which make the quality of life better for future generations than it is today.” — His Highness the Aga Khan in an interview with Robert Ivy, Editor in Chief, Architectural Record, conducted on August 31, 2001, at Aiglemont, France.

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“Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Quran God’s signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect. Over and over, the stars, sun, moon, earthquakes, fruits of the earth and trees are mentioned as the signs of divine power, divine law and divine order.” – His Highness the Aga Khan III (1877 – 1957), 48th Ismaili Imam.

Date posted: June 7, 2016.

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(I) UNITY OF OUR HUMAN RACE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From the mobile exhibition Together-Ensemble currently on a cross-country Canada tour. My better world includes….”God created man from One Soul. Everybody should help each other.”

“Mankind, fear your Lord, who created you of a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women; and fear God by whom you demand one of another, and the wombs; surely God ever watches over you.” — Holy Qur’an, 4:1, Sura an-Nisa  (The Women), Translation by A.J. Arberry.

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“…As you build your lives, for yourselves and others, you will come to rest upon certain principles. Central to my life has been a verse in the Holy Qur’an which addresses itself to the whole of humanity. It says: “Oh Mankind, fear your Lord, who created you of a single soul, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women.

“…I know of no more beautiful expression about the unity of our human race — born indeed from a single soul.” — His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, February 27, 2014, Parliament of Canada.

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“All men, rich and poor, must aid one another materially and personally. This fraternity is absolute, and it comprises men of all colours and all races: black, white, yellow, tawny; all are the sons of Adam in the flesh and all carry in them spark of the Divine Light. Everyone should strive his best to see that this spark be not extinguished but rather developed to that full Companionship-on-High.” — His Highness the Aga Khan III (1877-1957), 48th Ismaili Imam.

Date posted: June 6, 2016.

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