When the Prophet saw people severely tried, he made the supplication: "Praise be to [God] who has given me well-being such that I was not tried like these people. And He has preferred me over so much of his creation." Compassion for those in tribulation and gratitude for well-being is how the Prophet responded when he witnessed people in difficulty.

What comes to a person in his or her life may help a person move closer to God when the response is right. Ibn Abbas said that if a person is tested with a tribulation, he will find in it three blessings: first, the tribulation could have been worse; second, it was in worldly matters and not in spiritual ones; and third, it came in the finite world and not the infinite one. All three are reasons to thank God even for tribulations.

Individualists believe in man's conversion, in inner renewal; positivists believe in the change of his behaviour. The philosophy behind these views is clear: if a crime is a result of free choice or of an evil will, then re-education by some outside measure has little chance of success. On the contrary, if the offence is the consequence of bad conditions and habits, the offender can be reeducated by changing these conditions or forming new habits. This is the difference between an inner conversion and a drill. Every re-education technique enforced by clerks and government officials, and especially by the army or the police, always consists of drill and never of upbringing.

A number of decades ago, the "Abrahamic" identity was created to expand Christian-Jewish dialogue to include Muslims. This was a positive development that has since established a shared platform for dialogue and engagement. At the same time, it is a constructed identity that does not fully encompass the theological ethics and identity of each of us or all of us. Anything we build will necessarily be limited in space and perspective, and we must be mindful that enclosures, as much as they unite people in a space, also restrict that space. I am particularly concerned that the "Abrahamic" appellation reinforces a patriarchal lineage that I believe Islam came to reform. The elder men of the community have no preferential claim on religious leadership and authority in Islam, as much as that might be the cultural preference and social reality of many Muslims. As we work together to build a more peaceful world, we must embrace language and appellations that do not replicate or reinstate unjust power relations.

"Undoubtedly, within the body is a piece of flesh which, when it is in good condition (salaha), the whole body is also healthy and robust (salaha); but when it is degenerated (fasada), the whole body decays. Verily, that (part of the body) is the qalb (heart)." [Bukhari]

It is apparent from the words of the hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was indeed referring to the piece of flesh in the shape of the heart inside our bodies. However, his usage goes far beyond the biological meaning of the word "heart". The term qalb has a far wider meaning in the Quranic and hadith terminology. According to this understanding, our entire personality can be termed as the qalb.