Spirituality vs. Religion

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From Angels Art

I always struggled to define my religious views. I’ve been to different churches, read different religous texts but did not feel comfortable with any religion or church. I felt that normative religious values get often misinterpreted . I felt that religious leaders are very rigid in their views and often refuse to address important issues in the society or even condone violence. Various cultural practices also tend to ‘pollute’ true religious values.

I had my Aha! moment when I came across that image. Spirituality is definitely closer to my heart than religious dogmas.

Spirituality means something different to everyone. Some people get in touch with their spiritual side through private prayer, yoga, meditation, quiet reflection, or even long walks. For me spirituality is about finding and spreading positivity as well as striving to live the core human values such as:

What about you?

The most romantic love story…

 Romantic love grandma granddad

According to the “Happy ever after” romantic myths and fairy tales one only has to find a special partner and everything will be happy ever after. Supported by novels, songs, movies, television & magazines, this “Happy ever after” meme became one of the most pervasive viruses  of the mind in the 20th century. Although romantic love like this is mother nature’s way of attracting men and women to each other, love alone is not anywhere near enough for a life-long stable relationship. What else is required for a healthy long-term relationship?

Dr. Stephanie Sarkis suggests the following 7 keys to a healthy and happy relationship:

1. Mutual Respect
If you don’t have this – well, it’s going to be a tough road. This doesn’t mean you agree with everything your partner says or does. It does mean that you have admiration for each other, and steady undercurrent of love and trust throughout your relationship. You also have each other’s back. Abuse, whether it is physical, verbal, or emotional, defies mutual respect in every way, shape and form.  You have to have mutual respect to have a healthy relationship.

2. Arguing, not fighting
I’ve never seen a healthy couple that doesn’t argue. They never fight, however.  If a couple comes into my office and tells me they’ve never argued, something isn’t quite right. You can argue without fighting.  Arguing is non-combative – you and your partner state your points of view without name-calling or raising your voice.  Sometimes you agree to disagree – and that’s okay.

3. Agreement on Sex
You’re both okay with how often you have sex, how you have sex, where you have sex…and there’s mutual participation.  Sex is not withheld as a punishment.  And if you or your partner are not comfortable with any aspect of your sex life, you can talk about it openly, without criticism.

4. Agreement on Parenting
If the two of you don’t agree on a parenting style, you need to talk. You may have each grown up with different parenting styles – and we each tend to parent the same way we were parented.  If you don’t have kids yet but are thinking about it, you must, must, must have this conversation with your partner.

5. Equality with Money
Money is one of the major causes of frustration in marriage and family relationships therefore the skill of financial harmony is essential for healthy long-term relationship. Understanding and respecting the value that each partner places on money as well as open communication are important for developing financial harmony. Even if one of you makes more money than the other, you both have an equal say about where your money goes. There are no “hidden accounts”, and you decide together before you make large purchases.

6. Common Goals and Values
Couples with very different interests can have healthy relationships – what counts is that they share common goals and values.  Couples of different religions (or non-religion) and cultural backgrounds can have healthy relationships – what makes a healthy relationship is sharing core beliefs.  You may both share the belief that giving back to your community is important. You may both share the belief that extended family members are welcome to live with you at any time. Values and beliefs differ for everyone.

Common goals include intangibles like raising happy and healthy children, and tangibles like saving up for a house.  You can work together on setting one-year, five-year, even ten- and twenty-year goals.  Working towards something together strengthens your bond.

7. Fun
“Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat.” – Joanne Woodward. Enough said. Make time to have fun.  Life gets too serious without receiving regular doses of humour. 🙂

love-old-coupleFrom Love Never Fades

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Religious writings: normative teachings vs. diverse cultural practices

“When dealing with the Islamic perspective of any topic, there should be a clear distinction between the normative teachings of Islam and the diverse cultural practices among Muslims, which may or may not be consistent with them.”

From Gender Equity in Islam

From One Chinese Muslimah

Core Islam Values

Family Life
The bonds between family is something that is extremely sacred. To illustrate that point the Prophet said that “no sin is more swiftly punished than oppression, and the breaking of family ties.” Also, the nature of the family in Islam is one that allows for everyone their specific roles and rights.

Humility
Often times during the life of Prophet Muhammed he would be sitting in the masjid with his companions. When others would walk in looking for him, they wouldn’t be able to distinguish him from the crowd because, unlike many rulers and kings of the time, the Prophet didn’t dress or speak in a way that was different or above those that were around him.

Generosity
The word for the charity given by Muslims yearly is Zakah and literally speaking, it means to purify and to make grow. These two definitions can be combined to conclude that giving from your wealth, no matter the size or your financial situation will not only purify your soul, but will put blessings in and increase your wealth as well.

Loving Your Neighbor
Islam isn’t just a religion that’s focused on only for one day–it’s a way of life, and because of that so many societal customs are emphasized. One prominent example is the importance of treating your neighbors right, no matter where they come from.

Trustworthiness
Trustworthiness is a trait that’s appreciated in all spectrums of society and is essential in order to promote community cohesiveness.

Holding Your Tongue
The idiom “if you don’t have anything nice to say you shouldn’t say anything at all” spans countless cultures and times, and is an important aspect of Islam as well. Along with trying to speak the truth always, refraining from speaking bad can be just as noble.

Tolerance
As the world seems more to be heading to the extremes, it is important to learn and understand one another. Tolerance is an extremely important concept in Islam, whether it be understanding other races, religions, or customs.

Education
Whether it be seeking Islamic knowledge of secular knowledge, it’s important for Muslims to constantly be absorbing information. Many Muslims scholars throughout history are credited with inventing or discovering ideas that revolutionized the modern world, such as Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi and his work in algebra and the chemist Jabir Ibn Haiyan. Education in Islam is important for the Muslim to seek at all times in life, from the cradle to the grave.

( From Curious About Islam? )