Fasting is one of the best ways to cleanse the mind, body and spirit. It helps the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain while the body is resting from digestion and it also cleanses the body of toxins and creates empathy and self-discipline while bringing you closer to God.
Once again, I'm not saying that Islam is in every aspect of our lives, but there are many positive things that we just take for granted that Muslims have been doing for centuries, it's just so ironic from where I'm standing; listening to Trump and Hanson. Most of us know that the good far outweighs the bad.
On another note, the National Australia Bank and other financial institutions have begun giving out interest free loans. Now, we sort of know how interest makes the world go round, however, it wasn't always like that. Since the coming of global financial markets and virtual money, the way banks make money is off money. This is, when you look deeply into it, a very unfair way of making money. Traditionally, we make money through our sweat and hard work. Whether that involves selling goods or ideas, providing a service or manufacturing or producing commodities. The idea of interest is problematic because when someone needs finance to purchase something, the interest is basically what kills a family's budget. It hasn't only caused great distress and hardship, it has led to family breakdown and suicide. Interest is one of the evils of the world that is now entrenched in our financial institutions.
Islam forbids interest (called riba). Muslims are not allowed to trade in interest and countries like Malaysia, UAE, Turkey and other Muslim countries have Islamic Halal Finance which is a substitute for interest driven systems and takes a profit margin rather than interest from the lendee. It all works well and a win-win for both the lender and the lendee.
However, interest-free loans are becoming much more common- especially for impoverished societies in Asia and Africa. It gives communities opportunities, never before, dreamed of. The positive benefits of interest-free loans are tremendous. It creates a just and open system of finance which enables many more people to enter the market, boosting spending and lifting the economy. More countries are using it, including Australia.
I could probably go on and on but I'll leave you with one more example; the Halal Food Industry which has caused so much debate since Cory Bernardi called for a Parliamentary Inquiry on the Halal food sector, alleging that the cost of halal certification which he called a "tax" was being funneled into terrorist organisations. The Inquiry ended up being a farce and it was shown by an AUSTRAC investigation (the ASIO of finance) that no funds were being diverted to dubious groups.
On the other hand, the halal food industry is worth billions to Australia and creates thousands of jobs and the benefits find its way to every Australian. Actually, many of our livestock farmers depend on the halal market. But outside of the economic benefits, the method of halal slaughter, has been proven to be the most humane and effective way to slaughter an animal. By effective, I mean that it drains the animal of the toxic blood while the heart is still pumping (the animal is stunned but hot killed) and the meat is the most nutritious. The Jews have been doing it this way for more than 3000 years. So that's got to mean something! Nowadays, halal slaughter is becoming the norm in many non-Muslim countries.
So, as you can clearly see, we as a modern cosmopolitan society have a lot more in common with each other than we think. Muslims are often ridiculed in society and we look very hard for the negatives, sometimes in cultural practices or superstitions and sometimes in verses from holy books quoted out of context. The reality is the commonalities are their because they are actually universal practices that basically follow common-sense. Islam does not profess to hold the all the secrets to the world's woes, but together, humanity can work towards reducing and eliminating dangers, hardship and other nasties, thereby enriching the standard of living all over the world.
I'll leave you with this thought. Even in our own relatively short colonial history we can still relate to the most obscure Islamic practices; the wearing of a "Burqa" or more accurately the Niqab or face veil. While we don't see the Burqa as something practical in modern lifestyles like Australia; our own national treasure Ned Kelly, was famous for wearing it. He had a different purpose of course and he was driven by his own noble albeit personal cause. So, next time you see a Muslim woman wearing a face veil, don't look in disgust, but appreciate her devotion to her cause and her love of her Creator. I definitely don't see Ned Kelly as a criminal but a man who fought against the injustices of his time and was devoted to his cause.
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