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“I don’t think I’m ready for an executive leadership role,” the 42-year-old coaching client said to me on the phone.

Have you ever been in a position where you’ve been asked to lead a team, an organization, or a company, and your instinctive reaction is that you’re not ready for it? If you have, then this story from the Islamic tradition might help ease your distress: it is the story of Prophet Muhammad when he received the first revelation of the Qur’an.

On a clear night in 610 AD, deep in the mountains of Mecca, the Prophet was alone in the cave of Hira, when an angel appeared before him and squeezed him three times till he could barely breathe. The angel then told him to recite the first verses of the Qur’an and told him that he’s now the Messenger of God.

Shocked and scared, the Prophet went to his home shivering saying, “Cover me, cover me!” His wife, Khadija, comforted and listened to him, then she shared some powerful words of support reminding the Prophet that his was an excellent character and that nothing evil would befall him.

Khadija took him to her cousin Waraqa Bin Nawfal, who was a knowledgeable scholar. and the Prophet told him what had happened, and Waraqa reassured him that he was indeed the Messenger of God, but he would face difficulties from his people in the years to come.

There are several lessons from this story for the newly appointed leader who is nervous about their new role:

1. It’s OK to Fear

The fact that you feel worried, concerned, and even distressed about your new role is a good sign! This type of stress is called eustress, or good stress because it provides you with enough productive discomfort to grow and stretch yourself.

2. You Need Family Support

The first person the Prophet turned to after the encounter in the mountains was his loving wife, Khadija. This is a powerful reminder of the role that family plays in supporting your growth. Talk to your family about your new role, what it means for you and them, and what support you need from them to be successful.

3. Remember Your Strengths

Khadija reminded the Prophet of his character strengths and all the good qualities he needed to grow into this role. You were selected for the leadership position because someone or some people saw something in you that they believed made you right for it. You need to look in the mirror and remind yourself what those ingredients are.

Photo credit: Bethany Legg from Unsplash

4. Seek Expert Advice

Meet people who understand what this role entails and ask for their advice, just as the Prophet and Khadijah sought the advice of Waraqa Bin Nawfal in Mecca.

5. Get a Mentor

The Prophet was blessed with angel Jibreel (Gabriel) as a mentor to teach him the Qur’an and how to pray. Get a mentor for your role, perhaps even an executive coach. Let them give you the support you need as well as challenge you to grow into your new role.

6. Get up and Pray

One of the first verses in the Qur’an that was revealed after the first encounter with Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) was “O you who wraps himself [in clothing], Arise [to pray]” [Qur’an 73:1-2]. When you know that you’re over your head with responsibilities, seek divine assistance, and let your spiritual self-grow along with your professional self.

Photo Credit: Francisco Moreno from Unsplash

7. Take Your Time

Don’t expect to be the perfect leader from day one. You need time to practice a new set of skills and grow into your role. Prophet Muhammad took three years before he publicly announced to his people that he was the Messenger of God and they should follow him; he spent all that time contacting people in secret and building a network of support.

Back to the 42-year-old coaching client on the phone who told me he wasn’t ready. After an hour of coaching, he realized that it was okay to feel uncomfortable and that it shouldn’t stop him from at least exploring the role and seeking professional help to succeed in that role. He had it all in him, just like you do.

What are YOUR worst leadership fears, and what do you think you need help with? share with us in the comments. 

The post 7 Surprising Tips about Leadership from the First Revelation of the Qur’an appeared first on ProductiveMuslim.com.

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Joining us for Season 4 episode 7 is Amina Khan, founder of the fitness brand Amanah Fitness along with our host Mifrah Mahroof, for an interactive interview about the importance of understanding health through a Prophetic approach to food and fitness.

In this episode, Amina discusses the connection between health and spirituality and shares practical tips and tricks to stay in shape depending on where you are the moment with your health and fitness.

Practical Tips:
  1. Food: What are you eating and how much
  2. Fitness: Exercise & daily movement
  3. Rest: How much sleep/stress are you under
Resources:

Connect with Amina on Facebook and her Website.

Thank You For Listening!

Did you enjoy this episode? If so, please leave a review for us on iTunes or Stitcher Radio. This helps us get the word out there and in turn, give us the opportunity to benefit more people. Have a Question? Send in your voicemail here. We pray that you enjoyed this season as much as we enjoyed hosting and producing it.

The post Prophetic Health and Fitness with Amina Khan [Podcast Interview] appeared first on ProductiveMuslim.com.

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Read the PromoPart 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Part 5Part 6

Chapter Thirteen

“And then when happened?” Joe asked the next day at school.

“Whatcha think? I called the cops!” I said.

Alex froze when he saw me, but his drop-out-loser brother Jeff grabbed him and ran for it, so did the third guy. I tried to catch them but they jumped into a car and almost ran me over.

They got arrested two hours later. Man, that felt good! Let them rot in jail for all I care.

“What about the money?” Joe was still in shock.

“I’ll get it back once the investigation is over I’m sure. But that might take a while” I replied.

“You’re good man. You really pulled this off. You look like he#@ though!” Joe said.

“I’m so beat I don’t remember the last time I closed my eyes. Third grade was it?” I half-joked.

“Does anyone know about this yet?” Joe wondered while we walked to swimming class.

‘No, but I’m gonna go to the scout council and tell the truth; see what they say!”

18 laps later, swimming practice was finally almost over. I was struggling between two massive extremes of wanting this day to end and wanting time to pause so I don’t have to face my family.

Four hours to go, and no cookies to sell.

Now would be a good time for Tanya to be swallowed by an alien from outer space.

Just sayin’.

I was suddenly curious about her sales, not that it mattered though. I looked for Timmy boy before going back to the locker rooms. He probably keeps track of every girl scouts’ sales, including the names of their customers, their phone numbers, addresses and shoe sizes!

I couldn’t find him, which probably meant the coach made him stay behind and do 10 extra lapses to help build his upper body.

Poor Timmy boy; Even teachers pick on him.

I heard a splashing sound and my heart stopped for a sec. I ran to the pool area and had to rub my eyes to make sure what I was seeing was real.

Someone was still in the pool, sinking to the bottom of it, almost motionless. OH MY GOD! It’s Timmy boy!

I jumped into the water and fished him out.

No wonder no one noticed him drowning. He’s so small he could fit right in my back pocket.

I called for help and pressed both palms on his chest to pump the water out. I’ve seen it done in movies. Or do they press on the stomach?

I had no idea what I was doing. I’ve seen them do the mouth-to-mouth breathing thing, too. I might try that next and by ‘might’ I mean find him a grave coz no way in HE#@!

Timmy boy was coughing out water by the time paramedics came in and then his parents arrived shortly after that.

Wow!

Was that really Timmy boy’s dad? He looked like one of those hotshot businessmen in $5000 dollar suits.

And his mom… Like one of those uptight ladies in the Congress or something!

“He must have flexed his foot wrong and got a cramp. His vitals are stable and there seems to be no reason to worry, thanks to this young man over there. He saved your son’s life!” The paramedic said, pointing at me.

Timmy boy was shipped into an ambulance. His dad was obviously really shaken up. A lot more than the mom, who seemed really mad. I think she might sue the school and close it down.

Awesome!

Uh-oh! His dad’s walking over here.

He better not cry and hug me! Coz that would make him a rich weirdo!

“What’s your name son?” Timmy boy’s dad asked.

“Ali Salem. Ali with an ‘I’ not a ‘Y” I smiled.

“That’s good to know” His dad finally smiled too. I think my little name- spelling lesson calmed him down!

“Thank you for saving Jim’s life, Ali! I need to go to the hospital now, but I’m sure we will meet again soon.” He said, shook my hand and left.

I hopped on a bus after school to go to the police station. They wouldn’t release the stolen money, though.

Apparently the simple privilege of ‘getting your own stuff back without having to involve your parents coz they’ll ground you for life’ doesn’t apply till you’re 16!

I’m pretty sure this falls under Human Rights Violation. Dad’s anger issues + bad news + no helmet.

Yeah, that adds up to one funeral….MINE!

I went to dad’s office and told him exactly what had happened. He punched the wall, flipped his desk, broke the window, cursed me for a solid 15 minutes, yelled at his secretary then broke the phone.

That’s it!

Those anger management classes mom insisted he takes are really paying off. He’s totally transformed. Proud of you dad!

Dad went back to work after signing some documents at the police station and giving me back the money. Mom and Sara weren’t home. They were gonna meet us at the ceremony after Sara’s doctor’s appointment.  

I ate, showered, prayed, finished ALL my homework in two pomodoros and still had time to NAP!

I wasn’t tired anymore though. I felt so energized!

Oh my God! Wait a sec! Is this how people who don’t procrastinate feel ALL THE TIME?

Seriously?! GET OUT!

I did it one day and I already think they should teach my success story in college. To professors, after renaming it to the “Amazing-Ali-Salem” technique!

I ran to the convention center where the scout contest was taking place, gave in the money, took a couple more cases and set up a booth outside a nearby superstore. I figured since I had time, it was worth the shot!

I sold another 44 boxes. 1,001 in total. Things were lookin’ up.

7:50 pm

The girls were giving in their final revenues. I could see Sara and mom on the other side of the room. Sara had to sit down coz of her cast.

Many of her girlfriends gathered around her, holding their breaths. But they were all excited over nothing! I already overheard Fatso-Tanya’s final number. 1,033 boxes. SO DAMN CLOSE!

I felt so bad my ribs hurt.

“And now, everyone please take your seats. The winner of the grand prize will be announced shortly” The old scout council lady said.

And then I heard a very familiar voice cry out hysterically,

“HOLD IT! NOBODY MOVE! Ummm please?”

Oh, my Allah . It was TIMMY BOY! He scurried up to the stage, whispered something to the lady in charge and gave her a big fat huge brown envelope.

Everyone in the auditorium was completely stunned. The old lady gasped, did those drama queen gestures, like fanning her face with her hands (what’s up with that btw?) and then hugged Timmy boy so tight I think she popped all his zits!

She whispered something to him and I saw him scan the crowd with his four eyes.

“That’s him!” He pointed at me.

What the…? What did I do????

Chapter Fourteen

“Speech! Speech! Speech!” All the students, parents and councils chanted at the same time. Of course, my drama queen sister was still crying, or leaking out two fountains of what girls call ‘happy tears’.

I’ll probably live and die and roll in my grave asking the same question. “How are we supposed to know the difference between sad and happy tears?”

Truth time…

I was completely, ecstatically, ridiculously AMPED! You have any idea how hard it was to keep my cool when they announced the winner was ‘Sara Salem’? I had totally given up!

But turns out Timmy boy had started an online campaign with virtual shopping carts and credit card payments and everything.

He then sent out emails to the thousands of employees working at his dad’s company, telling them my story and how I was helping out my sister!

He put up flyers in mosques and churches and parks, and even did a little animation video on YouTube! Timmy managed to make Sara and I celebrities of the week!

And he sold 10,000 cookies in the process. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

He’d been working on it since the day I gave him the idea of writing a book about the ‘Pomodoro’ technique and told him he’d hit it big one day.

“No one has ever believed in me the way you did Ali” Timmy boy came up to me later. “You gave me a goal to live for and then you saved my life. I know you don’t like me still, but even so…thank you!”

I hate those awkward emotional moments. Someone says something and the other one wells up and then there’s a hug in the end! Ughhhhh

“You sold 10,000 cookies! For real? That’s ten times more than I did. You made me look bad dude! I should kick your skinny butt all the way to China!” I smiled. “But seriously, thanks, Jimmy! That was really cool.”

“Wow! Did you just call me Jimmy?”

“Shoot I’m sorry. Timmy! Thanks, Timmy!”

He patted me on the shoulder and walked away shaking his head.

What did I say?!  

Anyways…

Not only did Sara win the contest, her name is going in this year’s ‘Genius Book Of Records”

Timmy boy’s dad attended the ceremony, too. He came to congratulate me and then handed me a lifetime membership card to ‘Cray Jay’, best Italian food chain on planet Earth.

With all the stupid facts he’d told us over the years, Timmy boy never mentioned his dad practically owns the place! SICK!

This was the day best ever…. Sara won the contest, I got a VIP card and most of all, the greatest dream of my life came true. It’s every single guy’s dream to hear those three magic words that make your heart sing: Free Pizza Forever!

I helped Sara with her clutches and she finally made it up to the stage to give her winner’s speech. She started off by thanking God, mom and dad, and every single member remotely related to the cookies program.

She talked about what she learned and how it was a one of a kind experience. She sounded so mature it freaked me out a bit, and then she looked at me and said:

“And last but not least, I wanna thank my brother Ali for everything he’s done for me. Even though he can be annoying sometimes, and he teases me till I scream, and he once put cream cheese in my conditioner bottle, he’s the only one who can make me laugh so hard till I can’t breathe, and he’s the reason I feel protected! I remember back in elementary, he’d randomly storm like a tornado into my class to ask the teacher if anyone had bothered me that day. True story by the way.”

Everyone was laughing at this point, and then Sara continued.

“He is the reason I’m standing here today, and I know he’s gonna kill me for this tonight but…. I think it’s his turn to give us an inspirational speech. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Ali Salem!”

Damn! She’s so dead.

I climbed up the stage again and took the microphone.

“Before I start, for those of you who’d like to attend Sara’s funeral, it will be tonight at 1 am in our backyard.”

Another round of applause and lots of laughter.

“Why is that funny?” I asked, with a very serious face, which made the audience laugh even harder.

“When I offered to replace Sara in this contest, I was so sure of myself man. I promised her I would win it for her, no problem. And then came that shocking moment when I realized you actually gotta sell cookies to win! With only six days left, and me receiving awards for professional procrastination, I had no idea how I was gonna pull this one off. I mean two minutes after starting an assignment I’d reward myself with watching a video on YouTube, and then six hours later I’m still on the internet researching how long it takes for a giraffe to throw up! We think cramming is ‘cool’ coz waiting till the last minute before a deadline gives us a rush.”

“But life goals have NO deadlines. Being awesome has no due date. ‘I never started either’ used to be the most comforting words I could ever hear. But now that I’ve tried what it’s like to finish first, I’m never gonna take the back seat again. I must admit this contest has taught me a lot! Thank you, God, for giving me a chance today to change tomorrow. Thank you all for being here and a special shout out to my parents for being so great, and for giving my amazing sister the best brother in the world! Cheers!”

Three months later…

“You know what Sara, whatever makes you this annoying, REALLY works!” I snapped, tugging at my seat belt.

“It IS annoying to be always right.” She boasted. “The truth hurts, doesn’t it?”

“I’ll buy a new charger at the stupid airport, K? Will you shut up about it already?” I said.

“It’s my fault you know. I should’ve asked Magda to come with me instead of spending the next ten hours on this flight pretending I don’t know you!” Sara said.

“How dumb are you exactly? You can’t ask a friend. It’s a brother-sister RACE SHOW!” I said.

Sara was getting on my nerves so much I think I needed a nerve-transplant!

She never picked the design course thing after all. The grand Girls’ scout prize was a trip for two to Europe. And as a thank you, she decided we should go together to this brother-sister race thing in Switzerland and make headlines in foreign papers.

It sounded like a good idea back then, but now I know I should have squashed it like a bug! With all this complaining and teasing and calling me ‘irresponsible’, I doubt she’ll even be alive by the time we land.

“Yeah, looks like it’s gonna be a long flight.” The man sitting beside me sighed. He looked both old and young, I dunno. Like his teen outfit and sneakers didn’t match his face!

He reminded me of my ex-soccer coach in a way. His hair looked crunchy from too much hair gel, and he was making the most irritating noises chewing gum.

“I’m sorry okay?” Sara said, right before take off. “I don’t wanna start the trip like this, please. Plus you know how much flying creeps me out, so I need you to be all silly and funny to distract me.”

“Fine! I don’t wanna spend the next ten hours talking to this weirdo next to me either!” I whispered.

“What weirdo?” She leaned forward to check the seat next to me. “There’s no one sitting next to you. Oh, wait! Okay, I get it. You already started with your pranks. Funny!” She said.

I turned slowly to look at the guy sitting next to me. He smiled at me and winked.

“My name is Ali Salem.” He extended out a hand for me to shake it. “Ali with an I not a Y”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Read the PromoPart 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4Part 5Part 6

What’s the strongest productivity message that you got out of this series? Share with us your thoughts and reflections in the comments; we look forward to your discussions.

Don’t forget to share this series with those who will benefit from it. 

If you are suffering from procrastination, lack of time management, or any productivity issue, check out The ProductiveMuslim Academy for courses tailored to help you overcome these issues and learn how to live the Best Version of Yourself.

The post [Part 7- Finale] ‘I Haven’t Started Either’ – Confessions of A High School Bully appeared first on ProductiveMuslim.com.

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“I LOVE it. It’s Hilarious!”

“Really? So you think teens will be excited to read it, too?”
“Ummm no?”

“What? Why?”

“Coz teens don’t read, mom.”

“You’re a teenager and you read everything I write”

“That’s coz you made me!”

Well, you must’ve encountered the species somewhere for sure. A teenager at home? A niece or nephew maybe? Perhaps you’ve bumped into one of them notorious teens at a friend’s house?

Either way, you’re most likely familiar with the merchandise; it comes fully equipped with mood swings, rolling eyes, sarcasm, absurd slang language, and an unprecedented ability to binge on Netflix and/or PlayStation for 17 hours straight.

But really, even though the thought of exchanging them might cross our minds every now and then, kids are a gift. And it’s our job to make sure they’re on the right track. Of course, that includes questioning their choices, lecturing, pointing out their flaws and making them do all the things they don’t want to do! (High fives every parent reading this LOL).

It’s a balancing act really, between wanting to embrace and protect them and wanting to get a restraining order against them. But once we get the ‘sweet and sour’ recipe straight, it’s such a beautiful journey (actually it’s so not, but let’s pretend it is okay?).

Seriously though, we must admit most teens are very much misunderstood. They’re caught in a weird limbo; they’re not children anymore yet not grownups either. They’re too old to depend on their parents and too young to be independent. Many of us have no earthly idea how to get through to them, let alone, help or pass on life lessons.

So out of genuine care for the new generation, plus their lack of interest in listening to the voice of wisdom, the Productive Muslim team thought of coming up with productive and practical solutions to the problems our teens are facing today. And we reasoned the best approach would be to speak in a language they can understand, which is what inspired this idea to write a whole book series solely dedicated to Muslim teenagers, namely the ones living in the West.

‘Confessions Of A High School Bully’ is a series of hilarious adventures and schemes. The hero-narrator is a teen boy named Ali Salem. Not only is he insanely funny, he’s also smart and his ‘coolness’ factor is completely off the charts. Each book addresses a certain crisis and the first of this series deals with the extremely popular and relentless battle of putting things off until the last minute and then suffering the consequences.

For Ali, being the master manipulator he is, always landing on his feet, he figures his procrastination shouldn’t create that much of a problem, until, through a sudden twist of time, 14-year-old Ali bumps into the 24-year-old version of himself. Only instead of being wowed by the ‘legendary successful’ image he had of his future self, he’s completely and 100% beyond nauseated!

How did this happen? How did he grow up to be such a total loser?

I don’t wanna let the cat out of the bag you guys, but with the ‘Back to the Future’ element, the  ‘diva’ sister, the typical-frustrated Arab mom, the ‘not-so-bright’ best friend and the hilarious never-ending drama, I think you’re gonna love this book whether you’re 14 or 44, especially if you’re the ‘procrastinator’ type (I mean aren’t we all?)

So let’s all do our good deeds for the day and pass the word to teenagers that something hilariously relatable is coming their way soon, inshAllah. Maybe you’ll be the reason for changing someone’s life….

Okay, so I’m done here. This is the last you’ll hear from me this year, coz from now on it’s Ali, the teenage bully all the way.

Final words of wisdom before I go? Hmmmmm

You know, successful people have something in common; they believe the future can be better than the present….

The new generation IS the future. They have the power to change the world…

We just need to guide them, understand them and support them.

So let’s start now…

The first episode of ‘I Haven’t Started Either’ is coming right up!

Stay tuned….

[If you’re a parent and/or a working professional, don’t forget to check out The Productive Muslim Online Masterclass that aims to help you live the best version of yourself spiritually, physically and socially]

The post [Exclusive Teen Series Promo] ‘I Haven’t Started Either’- Confessions of a High School Bully appeared first on ProductiveMuslim.com.

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We are all aware of the virtue of seeking knowledge in Islam. However, it can sometimes be difficult – especially in a secular environment- to feel that our studies are also a form of worship. So, how do we approach our studies in a way that brings us closer to Allah ?

The Messenger of Allah said, “Allah makes the way to Jannah easy for him who treads the path in search of knowledge.” [Muslim]

In days gone by, treading the path in search of knowledge involved long, arduous journeys to foreign lands. Today, the challenges we face in the search for knowledge are different. In secular universities, we tend to see an approach to knowledge that is devoid of God and often interacts with those who are skeptical of His existence. The question is how do we remind ourselves that our pursuit of knowledge is an act of worship and use our studies to cement our faith?

Here are a few tips.

1. Know that “secular” knowledge is still connected to the Creator

There tends to exist the perception that knowledge can be divided into two categories: “Islamic” and “secular”. But if Allah is the Creator of the heavens and the Earth, is not the study of His creation, or of systems and ideas that benefit His creation, inherently connected to Him as well?

To study science, for example, is to follow the Qur’anic exhortation to ponder over the signs of Allah in His creation, thereby increasing our appreciation of Allah’s infinite greatness and majesty. To study law or commerce, on the other hand, is to empower yourself to better serve the Ummah and humanity at large – thereby serving Allah’s creation.

Thus, assure yourself that even seeking an education in a field that is considered “secular” can be regarded as an act of worship, provided you stay mindful of Allah with all of your endeavors.

 2. Renew your intention

Make the firm intention that your studies are for the pleasure of Allah . View your studies as your prerogative as a Muslim, in light of the many hadiths expounding upon the virtue of knowledge in Islam.

Reaffirm your intention at the beginning of each class and study session. Constantly make dua for your studies to be of benefit to you with the supplication:“Oh Allah! Make beneficial to me what you have taught me and teach me that which will be beneficial to me.”

It was narrated by Jabir that the Messenger of Allah said: “Ask Allah for beneficial knowledge and seek refuge with Allah from knowledge that is of no benefit.”[Sunan Ibn Majah]

Also, it was narrated by Umm Salamah that when the Prophet performed the Subh (morning prayer), while he said the Salam, he would say:

‘Allahumma inni as’aluka ‘ilman nafi’an, wa rizqan tayyiban, wa ‘amalan mutaqabbalan (O Allah, I ask You for beneficial knowledge, goodly provision and acceptable deeds).’” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
3. Take inspiration from the best

The early Muslims were pioneers in the Sciences, Art, and Philosophy, at a time when the rest of the world was plagued with ignorance. Read about scholars like Ibn Sina- the father of modern medicine, Ibn al Haytham- the first theoretical physicist and Al-Khawarizmi-the founder of algebra.

Let their thirst for knowledge-which was inspired by their love of Allah , motivate you. Know that as a Muslim, you walk in their footsteps, and make it your aim to continue their legacy and to bring Islam to the forefront of progress once again. Prophet Muhammad described the knowledge he received with intricacy, gaining knowledge is a blessing, that does not just fall upon anyone; consider it a huge compliment and gift from Allah that He picked you to be the bearer of the knowledge you hold, an opportunity that isn’t given to anyone.

The Messenger of Allah said “The similitude of guidance and knowledge with which Allah has sent me is like a rain which has fallen on some ground. A fertile part of earth has absorbed water and brought forth much grass and herbs. Another part, which is solid, held the water and Allah benefits men thereby, who drank and gave others to drink, and used it for irrigation. But some of it has fallen on a portion of sandy land which neither retains the water nor produces herbage. Such is the likeness of the man who understands the religion of Allah and who get the benefit of what Allah has sent me with; he learns and teaches others. It is also the likeness of the man who neither raises his head on that account (meaning he does not benefit from what the Prophet was sent with) nor accepts Allah’s Guidance with which I am sent.” [Al Bukhari and Muslim]

4. Let your knowledge increase you in humility and gratitude to Allah

Today, the advancement of knowledge is often viewed through the prism of human accomplishment. We tend to forget, amidst the rapid progress made in science and technology, that, “they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills…” [Qur’an: Chapter 2: Verse 255]

It is Allah who has granted us the faculties to possess and gain knowledge and everything we learn is only by His permission. Stay humble by being grateful to Allah for what he has made possible for you to learn, and reminding yourself of your limited capacity as a human to retain information and gain knowledge, Allah says in the Qur’an”

“O people, an example is presented, so listen to it. Indeed, those you invoke besides Allah will never create [as much as] a fly, even if they gathered together for that purpose. And if the fly should steal away from them a [tiny] thing, they could not recover it from him. Weak are the pursuer and pursued..” [Qur’an: Chapter 22, Verse 73]

This example perfectly illustrates that the knowledge we possess is a mere droplet in the ocean in comparison to the infinite Knowledge and Hikma (wisdom) of Allah , we can’t even attempt to measure His knowledge of every intricacy in the heavens and the earth, and beyond. Allah has all-encompassing knowledge. Remember this and let everything you learn increase you in awe of Allah , the One who possesses knowledge beyond the limits of our understanding.

5. Use what you learn for good and to benefit others earnestly

Tutor others, write a blog post, answer a question on an online forum – whatever it is, earn the reward of Sadaqah Jariyah (ongoing charity) by sharing your knowledge and expertise. If you are being trained to offer a service, volunteer that service to those in need. We must always remember that we have access to this information with the grace and mercy of Allah , so actively finding the Hikma in the knowledge and helping others to see this too becomes a duty once Allah has blessed you with it.

By serving the creation, you are ultimately serving the Creator and becoming closer to Him .

So, always remember that; and make sure you’re always upon wudu (ablution) as well to remind yourself to purify yourself inside and out throughout your educational process.

May Allah  grant us success in our studies and make it a means for us to draw nearer to Him.

May our studies enable us as an Ummah to fulfill our role as vicegerents on earth to the best of our abilities. Ameen.

What other tips do you have that helps you utilize secular knowledge to be more mindful of Allah ? Tell us in the comments. 

The post How to Use Your Secular Studies to Get Closer to Allah [swt] appeared first on ProductiveMuslim.com.

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“Allahu Akbar… Allahu Akbar…”

I hear the adhan through the windows of my office, and I see the pop up on my computer, “It’s time for dhuhr prayer.”

Few minutes earlier, I just started getting into the flow of my work and I don’t want the momentum to be lost. So I tell myself, “I still got 20 minutes until iqama time. Let me wrap this up and I will make it in time, in sha Allah.”

25 minutes later, I know salah started and I am frantically trying to send that last e-mail before rushing off to make a quick wudhu and join the prayers. I am late, again!

And this was not only for zuhr prayer, but for all 5 daily prayers: late for fajr because I woke up late, late for zuhr and ‘asr because of work, late for maghreb because of rush hour, late for ‘isha because of dinner!

And each time I was late, I felt bad, and told myself, “This is the last time I will ever be late!” And guess what? For the next salah, I was late again. In fact, I was the brother who seemed to have a permanent position in the last rows of every musalla/masjid I entered.

Initially, I was taking this lateness lightly. In fact, I fell into the classic trap of shaytaan and said to myself: “Alhamdulillah, brother, at least, you pray, and in the masjid as well! Masha Allah, how many brothers are out there who do not pray in the masjid, or pray at all!” But slowly I realised, this lateness was making an impact on my spirituality and character, and affecting my overall productivity.

Why being chronically late for salah is bad for you?

When you are always late for salah, it says a lot about you and your character. It shows that you lack discipline, internal strength, and integrity to be where you are supposed to be ‘on time’ for your most important appointments of the day, and you are not dependable.

No one likes to say about themselves that they are not dependable or lack discipline, but actions speak louder than words, and being late for salah is the first warning that you are on a slippery slope towards being chronically late in everything else in your life.

قالُ الحَسنُ البَصري:

إذَا هَانَت عَليكَ صَلاتك فَمَا الذي يَعـزُ عَليـكْ ؟!!

.بقدر ماتتعدل صلاتك تتعدل حياتك

ألم تعلم أن الصلاة اقترنت بالفــلاح …

“حي على الصــــــــلاة حي على الفـــلاح”،

، فكيف تطلب من الله التوفيق وأنت لحقه غير مجيب

Al-Hasan Al-Basri said:

“When salah is the least of your concerns, then what is your most important concern? As much as you fix your salah, your life will be fixed. Did you not know that salah was equated with Success: ‘Come to Prayer, Come to Success.’ How can you ask Allah for success when you are not responding to His right upon you?”

If you are wondering why there is a delay in your sustenance, in your marriage, in your work, in your health, look into your salah: are you delaying it?

Why are we late for salah?

When I started looking deeper into myself and asked myself why am I ALWAYS late for salah, it boiled down to 3 spiritual reasons and 3 practical reasons:

Spiritual reasons
  1. Lack of understanding of who Allah is: My lateness for salah was, unfortunately, a sign that I had not understood who Allah is. I failed to comprehend His Power and Majesty. You probably have heard the cliche’ example of “If you are invited by the King or the President or the Prime Minister of a country, would you not attend in your best manners, best clothes, and very early? How come when Allah , the King of kings, invites us for salah, we do not take this invitation seriously?” I will go a bit deeper than this and say, ‘If we truly have faith in the unseen and have faith in the Messenger of Allah telling us that Allah wants us to meet Him 5 times every day in our salah, then we should take salah more seriously.’
  2. Lack of appreciation of the gift of salah: It always fascinates me how salah is the ONLY OBLIGATION that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad in the Heavens during the Israa and Mir’aj journey. Every other obligation was revealed here on earth. It is as if Allah is sending the message that salah is so important that He wants to gift it personally to Prophet Muhamad and his Ummah. When we are late for salah, what does that tell us about our appreciation of this gift from Allah ?
  3. Lack of knowledge of the relation between salah and rizq (sustenance) : The number one excuse people (including myself) use for being late for salah is that they are chasing after their sustenance. You hear excuses such as “I have a meeting…”, “I have an important call…”, “I have a lecture…” etc.
    What we fail to realise is that by delaying our salah and taking salah so lightly, the barakah is being removed from our sustenance even if we make material gain during the period we miss salah. Allah Ar-Razzaq says in the Qur’an:

    “And enjoin prayer upon your family [and people] and be steadfast therein. We ask you not for provision; We provide for you, and the [best] outcome is for [those of] righteousness.”[Qur’an: Chapter 20, Verse 132]

    Notice how Allah linked salah with seeking provision and He is promising us through these verses that if we pray and enjoin our families to pray, He will provide for us.

 

Practical reasons
  1. Underestimating how long things will take: I used to have the wrong perception of time where I think it takes me 10 minutes to get to the masjid. But I forget to factor in the time it takes me to make wudhu, go downstairs, leave the office building, walk across to the masjid, and put my shoes away before finally entering the masjid. The time taken from the moment I leave my office till I get to the masjid is actually closer to 20 minutes and not 10 minutes!
  2. Procrastination: A lot of times the reason why I am late for salah is that I procrastinate on a task earlier on those days or weeks. This procrastination then leads to impending non-negotiable deadlines that I have to meet and does not allow me to make it for salah on time.
  3. Enjoying the ‘rush’: Deep down, I used to enjoy the ‘rush’ that the time between adhan and iqama provides. As soon as adhan goes off, I switch to laser sharp focus and I get a lot done in those 20 minutes, but of course, at the expense of salah.

 

How to break out of being chronically late for salah?

Being chronically late for salah is a pattern and the moment you understand how that pattern develops, you can make small tweaks in your daily life and mindset, and develop a new pattern that helps you make it to salah on time – every time. Below are the top 10 tips to break out of being chronically late for salah:

  1. Own up to the problem: Admit you have a problem of being late. If you think you are OK, and that you should be applauded for just praying, then you will never take this lateness seriously. By realising that being late for salah is not what Allah or His Messenger love, it forces you to own up to the problem and want to do something about it.
  2. Redefine punctuality as a matter of faith: We hear the verse from the Qur’an that says:

    “…Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times”[Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 103]

    Let us internalize it and make it part of our faith. Ask yourself the following questions:
    Do you truly believe that Allah is calling you to meet Him?
    Do you truly believe that salah is His gift for you?
    Do you truly believe that success, sustenance, and barakah will come from praying on time?
    If you do, then be punctual with your salah and show Allah that you are eager to meet Him.

  1. Note the benefits of being on time for salah: Unfortunately for some people, they think it is a waste of time to be early for salah. They say, “What will I do? Just sit there and wait?” What they do not realise is the immense virtue of simply waiting for salah. I will mention three ahadith to inspire you:

    1. Narrated ‘Abdullah :
    I asked the Prophet “Which deed is the dearest to Allah ?” He replied, “To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times.” [Bukhari]

    2.Narrated Abu Huraira :
    Allah’s Apostle said, “The angels keep on asking for Allah’s Blessing and Forgiveness for anyone of you as long as he is at his Musalla (praying place) and does not do Hadath (passing wind). The angels say, ‘O Allah! Forgive him and be Merciful to him.’ Each one of you is in the prayer as long as you are waiting for the prayer and nothing but the prayer detains you from going to your family.” [Muslim]

    3. Narrated Abu Huraira :
    The Prophet said: “If the people knew the reward for the zuhr prayer in its early time, they would race for it. If they knew the reward for the ‘isha and the fajr prayers in congregation, they would join them even if they had to crawl. If they knew the reward for the first row, they would draw lots for it.” [Bukhari]

  2. Stop work at adhan: Allah says in the Qur’an:

    “So woe to those who pray [but] those who are heedless of their prayer” [Qur’an: Chapter 107, Verses 4-5]

    This verse is a stern warning for those of us who pray but are heedless of their prayers and do not give it its due attention. The safe thing to do, when you hear the adhan or you know it is time for salah, is to get ready for it and answer the call of Allah .

  1. Shoot to arrive 5-15 minutes early: I explained in a previous post about how I wake 45 minutes early before Fajr regardless of the season. The same principle I now apply for other daily prayers. I had set an alarm 30 minutes before when I am supposed to leave for the masjid and that gives me 30 minutes to wrap up whatever I am doing and get to the masjid 5-15 minutes early.
  2. Time yourself: One of the ways that helped me understand how long it truly takes me to get from my office to the masjid, was to use a timer. So I will press start on a timer as soon as I leave my office and press stop when I enter the masjid. This gives me an accurate door to door estimation of how long it takes me to get to the masjid and I build that into my schedule. If you do this exercise you will be surprised at how the little things add up and end up delaying you without you even realising.
  3. Keep things at specific places: One of the biggest reasons people end up late is they misplace something they need before going out. Could be their keys, wallet, handbags, etc. Do not fall for this and keep things at a particular place and leave important things (keys, wallet etc.) by the door that you are not wasting time trying to find them and ending up waiting for salah.
  4. Keep a salah clock in around the house: To inspire your family to always pray on time and not delay salah, purchase one salah wall clock and have it somewhere centrally in the house. Train your children when they hear the adhan from this clock (especially if they do not live close to a masjid) to drop what they are doing and get ready for salah.
    And this is a note to parents: If your kids see you are careless about salah and do not drop what you are doing to get ready for it when the adhan goes off, guess what the children will learn!
  5. Plan your life around salah: All the aforesaid tips boil down to planning your life around salah. What I recommend my coaching clients to do is to block time out for salah in their calendars and set a 30-minute reminder before each one. This way they will not accidentally place a meeting or a call or an errand during salah time and end up delaying salah. As we say on ProductiveMuslim:

    “Plan your life around salah and not the other way..

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The minute we leave full time or even part time education, there is a wave of pressure on us to figure out what we want to do next. There is, even more, pressure for those who have decided to change career paths. While they’re full of passion and enthusiasm, a lot of people just don’t know what to do or where to start in this new professional journey. 

This article will give you some tips on how to market yourself and boost your professional profile.

1. Have the right mindset

Based on experience and conversations with professional networkers, I realized that for young professionals, the concept of networking can be incredibly daunting. But, networking is a major part of any field of work.

For employers, colleagues, and peers to respect and get to know you, a fair amount of communication is needed. We are often taught extensively how to apply for jobs, how to write up an impeccable CV, but we are not often taught how to conduct ourselves and how to manage our mindset in order to go into a meeting or a networking setting with confidence.

So this is something I learned and it proved to be very essential: never enter a gathering feeling like you are in need to gain something from it, or that you are inferior to anyone else. What this does is subtly contribute to your changing level of self-respect, self-preservation, and self-worth. By seeing everyone in the room as someone who has something more to offer you than you do for them, means you are not internalizing a basic fundamental concept of our deen which is to look at each other with equality.

Allah  created humans equally, but society attributes more value to humans based on their monetary worth, popularity, and/or beauty.

By adjusting your mindset, you’ll be able to believe in your own worth and capabilities, you’ll understand that your value or worth is not based on the changing societal norms, but purely from Allah who dignified all human beings.

Through this reassurance and then learning to access your own skill set and talents, you will be able to enter any situation knowing you have something special to offer others, which in turn will heighten your level of confidence.

If you see networking as a collaboration, as opposed to someone doing you a favor, it will no longer be a burden, more importantly, you will be treated with respect as a peer, regardless of your age.

Our religion does not call for respect of each other merely based on age or profession; respect is for everyone, and some of the most accomplished and respected companions of the Prophet were as young as what we call today teenagers.

Anas bin Malik narrated that:
“An older man came to talk to the Prophet, and the people were hesitant to make room for him. The Prophet said: He is not one of us who does not have mercy on our young and does not respect our elders.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]
2. Don’t hold back

 Often when making a new LinkedIn account, many people are slightly apprehensive about sharing too much about their career or academic history. Particularly since often, on a platform like this, it can very easily become a public space to be compared to other competitors in your field. The thing is, headhunters, employers, and peers are on there to see what YOU may have to offer that they don’t.

Tailoring your account to portray how your experience can in some way link back to your choice of career, is helpful. Holding back, and being shy about the work you have not done, or even the work you have will only serve to become an obstacle for potential employers or peers you are interested in connecting with, to know more about you.

Be proud of where you are, what you have achieved up to this point, and remember to draw on every experience whether it is a weekend spent volunteering for a local shelter, or a publication you have written for place importance in the little things. Ultimately filling the gaps in a loquacious way helps others to understand how you have spent your time up to where you are today. Something you should carry with pride that every step you took to get to this moment, was ordained by Allah , and there is huge value in that.

Your job is to make your story alive and meaningful and see the value and worth of everything. That takes some creativity, but also deep thinking and introspection. This is good for you professionally as people can be passionate about what you’ve shown passion about and can sense your sincerity and truthfulness. But also the practice of seeing meaning and value in your experiences and understanding the benefit in them is a great source of barakah as Allah says:

“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]” [Qur’an: Chapter 14, Verse 7]

3. Take a good quality picture

It seems like a straightforward piece of advice, but you will be surprised how many great accounts are let down by their picture game.

There are around 467 million LinkedIn users today, 106 million monthly active users spanning over 200 countries and profiles with photos get 21 times more profile views than someone without one. There are books, Youtube videos, and articles available highlighting the importance of marketing yourself in today’s age. Remember marketing and selling yourself are two completely different things.

Knowing that a high-quality respectable image can actually serve to do half of the work, as we know an image can speak a thousand words, investing in a great one can save a lot of time. Any PR or marketing team will always draw focus upon the branding, the image you pick is a huge part of how you brand yourself.

Here are some staple dos for Linkedin images to remember:

  • It is a professional network, so smart attire is encouraged,
  • Make sure the quality of your image is high, you can use an iPhone camera that can create the effect of a blurred background (the iPhone x is equipped with this feature). Ensure the sharp focus is on you, as you are the subject of the image, or alternatively, finding photographers on Instagram with a small following. They will be more accessible, remember you are creating collaborations in everything that you do, reaching out and asking them to take your picture for your professional or social profiles, can also be used to help them build their portfolio, therefore making it a shared endeavor. This also helps to build your networks with people in various fields, in a very organic way.
  • Make sure you are smiling to showcase that you are in fact a pleasant human being to work with. It is also the Sunnah of the Prophet , which will place more barakah in your endeavors.

“I have not seen anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah [Jami’ at Tirmidhi]

 4. Make sure to fill all sections

Sit down and think, draw on your strengths and skills that Allah blessed you with. Have confidence in them, and ensure you cover all areas of your Linkedin page.

The website itself offers widgets that can be found in the corner of the page as a reminder to cover all areas such as skills, academic background, work experience and so on.

The first thing your potential colleagues, peers, and employers will see is your image, your bio section, and your current job position. There are split opinions, about what the job seeker should write in the bio if they are looking for a job. Some would suggest being explicit and stating “seeking opportunities in…”  which has been proven to help headhunters rule out other candidates. However, from my personal experience, naturally, people are drawn to someone who is quietly confident in their field.

The opportunity seems to come more towards those who seem like they don’t need it, but rather would value it.  Just like how in a networking setting, it is best to make a good impression, make your introduction in a way that allows the person to see what you’re about and have to offer, without you having to seem like you are at the mercy of these peers.

So stating the field you are in, and perhaps stating your interests help viewers of your profile gauge your areas of interest. With this, you will find that you will be treated as a peer, however,  some employers may not know you are looking for a job, therefore you must be hands-on, and proactive about seeking the right employers yourself.

5. Invest in Inmail

InMail messages are sent directly to another LinkedIn member you are not connected to.

This is normally great when there is a public figure who may have too many connections, to get access to them through the regular route.

If you have a basic (free) account, you must upgrade to a Premium account to use InMail. You receive a specific number of InMail credits based on your subscription type.

This way reaching those who inspire you is a lot more feasible.

6. Important numbers to motivate you

If you are more motivated by numbers, here is a list of comprehensive statistics about marketing and LinkedIn you may find helpful:

A colleague of mine recently told me she doesn’t think it’s important necessarily to make these online connections. I think it really does, I told her it is kind of like getting all the business cards you have ever been given and putting them all in one box all neatly organized, and then texting each person in that box and establishing contact with them. Now imagine that box was online, I see LinkedIn as a place to keep all of the contacts you have ever made, and desire to make, in your back pocket, you will never lose touch, you will update each other about the things you are passionate about with the status option, and establish bonds. When you think of it like that, you’ll be able to make the best use of it.

7. Don’t go mad, but don’t shy away either

The whole point of being on LinkedIn is to expand your professional network. Taking time out to build networking strategies for any professional or social media profile can have huge benefits in the long run. Learning to map out figures in the field of work you are interested in engaging with can really help propel you into the right circles.

Once you are able to source the experienced professionals in your field and build connections with them, an algorithm will form, creating more opportunities for you to connect with individuals that fall under the same bracket or category, such as employees working for a particular company like Google, or peers interested in/ working within the field of Startups and NGOs. Building connections with the like-minded individuals is very positive for your outlook as it will help inspire you towards projects and ideas.

Creating synergies and collaborations with like-minded people will help empower you and your vision, to place more value on what you are doing. Have a set amount of connections you aim to achieve by a certain time, creating small goals creates motivation and will make the whole process more interesting,

Remember you are not connecting for the sake of having connections, each human being is valuable, and possess qualities that Allah destined to be on your path, therefore seeing the connecting process as an opportunity to be inspired through the great qualities in others will help you remember quality, not quantity. This said, there is some kind of notoriety that comes with reaching the 500 plus mark on Linkedin that serves to grant the user with a little more leverage.

It’s great to build up your network to help others know how well connected you are, but bare in mind this should not be the sole reason for your network strategy mapping.

Correct your intention and actively ask Allah to help you connect with the right people who possess the knowledge, qualities, and skills that will propel you into the job you are looking for.

8. Remember it’s all there for a reason

Linking our job or career to Allah isn’t something we often think about; we seem to disconnect from the reality that our relationship with Allah  is holistic and all-encompassing in our lives. The spiritual side of our religion is not only about walking away from our desks briefly to pray in a quiet room.

Everything we do, from the minute our eyes open each morning, to the seconds we spend thinking, the peculiar set of thoughts that suddenly erupt, to the people we bump into…etc, none of this is coincidental, it is all ordained and allowed to occur by the will of Allah .

Therefore you need to think more meaningfully about every connection you make and every idea you have and your own career aspirations in light of your purpose in life and your destination afterlife.

If this is the case, and Allah is the priority, everything will fall right into place. You’ll be able to see that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps there will come a time in the future where your very presence in the workplace of your choice becomes a means for you to attain great rewards from Him . Or more than that, sometimes our purpose isn’t so grandiose and majestic as to change the world, sometimes Allah provides us with a safe sanctuary, a place that we need to be in order to learn things, to change, grow, and evolve, it can be a place in which you live “a mediocre” existence by societies standards, but it’s, in fact, a place in which you find great internal peace, and consequentially are able to glorify Allah in a way you may not be able to in any other place.

9. Reflect the excellent etiquettes of the sunnah

There are great tips and gems in following the sunnah that add meaning and a sense of ihsan (excellence/good conduct) in our work and interactions. For example:

“It is reported by Thabit al-Bannani that Anas used to oil his hand with scented oil in the morning for the sake of shaking hands with his brothers.” [Al Adab Al Mufrad]

A huge part of our religion is placed on perfecting one’s manner and character.

The Prophet said: The most perfect believer in respect of faith is he who is best of them in manners [Sunan Abi Dawud]

Having good manners is often referenced as a hugely pivotal aspect of the day to day dealings in our workplaces, and is almost always referenced with regards to business.

Business etiquettes, such as learning more about the culture of the person you are about to go into business with actually serves to bring about a stronger rapport, and mutual respect between colleagues and business partners.

By just mirroring the sunnah in various key areas of our lives, such as making sure we look presentable, not speaking ill of others, returning a bad word with a good one, being patient and working hard when we are faced with an obstacle, all of this boost our own professional profile online and offline.

Reflecting the Prophet’s way of conduct is the perfect example to follow that can help you personally and also make everyone comfortable dealing with you.

One gem from the sunnah that really touches me, for example, is how the Prophet Muhammad..

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For many of us, it’s not the sun that wakes us up but the unavoidable glare of our phones. Social media has taken over our lives in a way that could be damaging to our spirituality. 

We spend hours scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, and aimlessly watching video after video. It’s good to honestly think about how many of our mornings have kicked off by unproductively.

While some people aim for complete detachment from social media as a spiritual cleansing tool, others think of ways to gain control over their social media intake in a way that brings barakah in their lives and limits harm that could come out of it.

If you are looking to do the latter, here are a few suggested ways to utilize social media to boost your spiritual productivity.

Seek knowledge and capitalize on using beneficial apps

Sacred knowledge used to be very hard to acquire; people used to travel and exert time and money to seek knowledge, but now there is a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. We are, in a way, fortunate that we have unlimited resources to help us learn more and seek closeness of Allah . So, capitalize on this luxury. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through your phone, allow your phone to connect you more with Allah and less with dunya.

There are numerous apps you can download to gain more knowledge, for example:

  • Muslim Pro
  • Quran Pro
  • MyQuran
  • BayinnahTV

A majority of us already have apps like Youtube, Spotify and for those who have iPhone: podcasts,  so why not utilize them properly? Use them to secure your akhirah and preserve the stability of your heart. If you can find 10 minutes to watch a makeup tutorial on youtube, you can allocate some time to watch a lecture. Short reminders on youtube are plentiful, so even five minutes of expanding your knowledge will be of benefit to you. If you can sit through a 40-minute long episode on Netflix, you should be able to dedicate twice as much time to Allah for the sake of your soul. Replace the music on Spotify with Quran. Download a few lectures on a podcast and nourish your iman on your commute to school or work.

Think about ‘who/what’ you are following and filter out negative influences

It’s very critical to monitor the type of posts that are flooding your newsfeed. The things we watch, read, and listen to impact us greatly. Take a moment to scroll through the list of people you are following, and ask yourself what kind of public figures are they? What is their message? What kind of pages am I following? What kind of pages do I find myself constantly going back to? Will Allah be pleased with me for supporting their message? Will I be affected negatively by this content?

Be firm and strong enough to unfollow/unfriend figures or pages that you feel are toxic to your heart. This is a form of cleansing. Remember, following someone can easily lead to praise, which can lead us to believe the person we admire is infallible. We must be careful not to overpraise someone more than we praise and worship Allah .

Try to follow people of sound knowledge and respected Islamic scholars on social media. The pages dedicated solely to amplifying knowledge are plenty. Also, share what you learn as a sadaqah jariya (beneficial knowledge/ceaseless charity). It is said that the righteous companions will be in Jannah (paradise) together, so motivate yourself and your friends by creating iMessage or WhatsApp groups for the purpose of sharing authentic beneficial knowledge, and for discussion and support of one another.

Block notifications to be more present in real life

When we allow ourselves to receive notifications at all times and make ourselves available to respond to everything we receive on the spot, this can drastically damage the quality of our attention, our presence with people in real life and our ibadah (worship).

Even when our phones are not physically in our hands, our hearts are distracted by them. During salaah (prayer), while we are reciting the holy Qu’ran, or during any other form of ibadah, we should be completely mindful of the majesty of Allah . All other matters should be placed behind you. However, with the notification sounds, the mind wanders, and we begin to speculate about the contents of the notification. We are well aware that it is only Allah that deserves our full attention. It is not befitting of Him to be distracted while being with Him in prayer or dhikr.

So before salaah (prayer), disable the notifications for all of your apps and put your phone on do not disturb. Not knowing who is texting you for 15 minutes won’t damage you, but these minutes could be utilized in pursuing the hereafter and eternal goodness, and showing Allah that He is more important than anything else in our lives.

Control time and don’t let it control you

Allah says:

“By time
Indeed, mankind is in loss,
Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” [Qur’an: Chapter: 103]

Allah swore by time, and we are all losing time, except the ones Allah has specified. We should make sure that the time we spend fulfills the conditions of success Allah informed us about. So, making sure the time is spent increasing or protecting our belief, increasing us in good deeds, helping us advise other to follow the Truth and helping us be patient and call others to be patient while upholding to the Truth.

Sometimes, we get so consumed in pursuing the temporary life that we forsake the eternal next life. Productivity to a Muslim means striking a balance between deen (religion) and dunya (this life), it means while we struggle to survive in this life, we are to conceive ways to accrue barakah in all our actions. The inevitable time and date of our death are not within our knowledge so we must tirelessly prepare for it and not allow our time to be wasted obliviously.

Every action is written, accounted for, even those moments of filling our eyes with facebook statuses and comments. When we are conscious of that, we will be more in control of what we see/consume.

We cannot analyze how much time we spend on something unless we measure it. Believe it or not, we spend way more time on our screens than we believe we do. When you actually see the number of times you’ve unlocked your phone within an hour or the amount of time you spent on an app within a day, it becomes a huge reality check and aids in improvising ourselves efficiently. There are many paid and free apps available to track exactly what you do on your phone and how much time you spend on each activity. Download them to help maximize your barakah with social media. Quality Time is one such app you could try.

Additionally, while working or surfing on screens other than phones, we subconsciously tend to open many tabs on our browsers, that hinder our productivity and waste our time. Keep check of which tabs you actually need to be opened in the browser for your work/study and which tabs could wait for later.

Don’t let what is artificial deceive you

There are posts that seem to insinuate that everyone around you has perfectly, well-balanced lives. It is an imperative to understand that everything you see on these social media channels is filtered. Every image and every word is refined to give the illusion of faultlessness. Most people are not going to share the dismal aspects of their lives on the internet, rendering them completely vulnerable to criticism. Social media creeps into our minds and hearts, it has a way of making us utterly infatuated with other people’s lives. No matter how mentally strong we are, anyone can become vulnerable and negatively affected by what they see. There is a lot of research on how social media could be tied to depression; when users surveilled what their friends were up to, they were reported to be more inclined to report symptoms linked to depression.

We compare ourselves with internet personalities, wasting away our own extraordinary potential. It deters us from the path of gaining the pleasure of Allah , owing to the fact that comparing oneself to others leads to feelings of dejection. These feelings open the doors to ungratefulness. Remember that ibadah (worship) begins with shukr (gratitude). We say in The Opening Chapter of the Qur’an that we recite every day: “[All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds “, however, when we are focused on the artificial happiness or perfection of others, we feel worse about our own condition and lose our sense of gratitude that brings barakah into our lives. As Allah says:

“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]” [Quran: Chapter 14, Verse 7]

So, let us slow down and regain control of social media to gain barakah, instead of allowing it to take away the barakah we have in our lives.

What tips are you going to incorporate into your life after reading this article? Also, what tips do you have that could benefit others? Let us know in the comments. 

The post How to Utilize Social Media to Gain Barakah in Your Life appeared first on ProductiveMuslim.com.

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5 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Stay Motivated | Productive Muslim

Embarking on the journey of becoming an entrepreneur is one that is filled with many ups and downs. The question is: how can entrepreneurs keep up the passion and drive through testing times? 

If you are just starting out in your business, you will know what I mean. Sometimes you are on a roll – inspiration constantly hits you and you work away endlessly, sometimes for hours or days on end. When your ideas become real, you are fuelled with even more motivation, for example, when you receive your first logo design or preview your new website. Sometimes, however, things aren’t as exciting, especially when you realize the amount of administration and bureaucracy you have to overcome! And inevitably, you will encounter bumps along the way. You may find it hard to reach your ideal customers, for example, or you might be finding it difficult to define who your target market is. You might be struggling with finding the time to devote to building your business, or the whole process may be taking a lot longer than you had originally anticipated.

Starting an entrepreneurial project is hard work and many people do not realize the labor that goes into it. Although becoming an entrepreneur may sound glamorous, there are times where you might feel like giving up or begin to question why you even started this in the first place.

But as with all good things, nothing is easy and Allah has informed us that we will be tested, especially with our wealth. So when you are feeling helpless and completely demotivated, try these 5 practical steps to keep up the passion and drive for working on your business.

1. Remember Allah

Did you know that working in your own business can be an act of worship? It all comes down to the intention.

So ask yourself, what made you want to start your business?

It is likely that your reasoning is to earn a halal living; perhaps it is to feed and shelter your family and contribute towards your family income; maybe it is because you want to help your parents; or possibly because you want to be beneficial to the community.

All of these things are worship. Worship transcends the ritual acts that we obligated to complete, because anything you do to please Allah becomes ibaadah, even sitting and doing the accounts in your office! As long as you set your intentions right, you will be rewarded for every action you take. You will be rewarded even before your business gets off the ground! This is because actions are rewarded by intention. The Prophet Muhammad said,

“Verily actions are [rewarded] by their intentions, and one shall only have [the reward] for that which one intended.” [Sahih al Bukhari]

2. Surround yourself with beneficial company

The people that you have around you play a big part in affecting you on your entrepreneurial journey. Have a think about the people that you are close to or regularly hang around with. Do they encourage and support you? Are they full of optimism and positivity about your dreams or do they mock you and put you down? Do they give you suggestions and advice on how to develop your ideas or are they dismissive of your dreams and desires?

Whether or not we realize it, the company that we keep influences us greatly. To help you remain motivated on your route to becoming your own boss, you must surround yourself with like-minded, proactive people who will inspire you and encourage your success. There are many ways that you can do this if you do not already have beneficial people in your circle: attend events that relate to your business niche, or join groups on social media within your business industry.

3. Visualise the end goal

This involves creating a mental image of what your business could be in the future. It is a simple but extremely powerful in enabling you to stay motivated when starting your business.

Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed or distracted. Then close your eyes. Relax. Release the tension from your shoulders. Breath in and out, deeply and slowly. Breathe in and out. Now, imagine your dream business. What does it look like? Where is it? Who is there? Employees? Friends? Customers? How do you feel? Happy? Excited? Fulfilled? Explore your surroundings. Take it all in. Hold the vision for as long as possible. Gently open your eyes.

The power of visualization is not to be underestimated. Its effectiveness means that it is used by many successful individuals as part of the process to achieve their goals, especially within the sports industry; famous sportspeople like Michael Jordan are known to use visualization in their training. Visualisation works by priming our body to act in ways that are consistent with what we imagined.

You can visualize your dream business as often as you need to. I recommend it once at the beginning of the day. Making visualization a habit will help you at points of low motivation, as it will serve as a reminder of why you went into the entrepreneurship in the first place.

Also, have a good expectation of Allah , and that so long as you’re doing everything in a halal manner, Allah will always bring you what is best and remove from your way what is harmful.

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Allah says: ‘I am just as My slave thinks I am, (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him) and I am with him if He remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too, remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than they; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.’ ” [Sahih Al Bukhari]

4. Develop a mind map

A ‘brainstorm’, or ‘mind map’ is a diagram which you could create to map out all the areas and plans for your business. It could include your long and short-term goals, a brief financial plan and your market research. These can be as detailed or as brief as you want them to be and personalized to your exact needs. When you work through a section of your map and achieve a goal, you will feel a sense of gratification and accomplishment, as you are visually seeing the progress you are making. Mind maps were initially drawn out by hand, but there are numerous websites that allow you to create a mind map for free.

A lot of the time, people with great ideas take a few steps towards working on their ideas but end up giving up on their dreams because they don’t feel like they are making much progress. That usually happens when we don’t have a clear plan of action. We do some work here and there, with no direction or a clear plan of what we are doing, and what the next steps will be. Is it any wonder then that it is hard to follow through? To remain motivated you need to create a plan of what steps you will take and when. Mind maps are great to show the steps you will take in the near future, and how they will have a greater effect on your project. When will you create a marketing campaign? When will you carry out research on your ideal customers? When will you develop your website? Having clear goals that are timed will allow you to have a birds-eye view of where you are, the progress you have made and how much time is left till you reach your end goal. In doing so, you will remain motivated to continue on your journey.

5. Welcome failure

Expect failure as part of the journey. When things are not going to plan, it can cause us to feel demotivated. Rather than let it get you down, expect failure to be part of the process. Learn from the experience. Take note of what went wrong, and more importantly, why? What could you do better next time? Or what do you need to avoid doing? Every failure can be viewed as a learning opportunity.

Another point about failure is anticipation. Whenever you make a decision, think of the best and worst outcomes; plan ahead in the case of worst outcomes, so that if your plan didn’t go right, you will feel a sense of relief because you already know how to pick it up again.

And remember:

“How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” [Sahih Muslim]

Remember, the road to becoming an entrepreneur is not a straight one. There will be good days and there will be bad days. Just remember that your rizq (provision) has been written for you, and therefore will not miss you. Do whatever you can, complete your tasks with ihsaan (excellence) and leave the rest to Allah .

It was narrated from Jabir bin ‘Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
O people, fear Allah and be moderate in seeking a living, for no soul will die until it has received all its provision, even if it is slow in coming. So fear Allah and be moderate in seeking provision; take that which is permissible and leave that which is forbidden. ” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

What other beneficial tips you have that has helped you over the years? Share with us in the comments. 

The post 5 Ways to Keep You Motivated as An Entrepreneur appeared first on ProductiveMuslim.com.

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Many of us have to work full-time in order to earn a living, and it is common to have to travel to do so, whether this is by car or public transport. With early wake-up alarms and chores to do when we reach home, working and traveling can result in feeling too tired or drained to do any other worship aside from what is compulsory. So how can we use the different parts of our working day to connect with Allah ?

As Muslims, we should always be moving forward and improving ourselves, especially when we’re physically capable and have the time to do so. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad said,

“There are two blessings which many people lose: health and free time for doing good.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

We work because we need to earn money, and we -hopefully- love doing the work we do. But for the Muslim, there is more than the “eat, sleep, work, repeat” cycle, because we are constantly thinking of our Hereafter too. So to make sure we keep the connection between our work and spirituality, here are four tips to ensure you can always incorporate the remembrance of Allah in your daily working life.

1. Connect with Allah during your commute

Instead of scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed whilst waiting for your train or bus to arrive, or listening to radio or music whilst driving, use this valuable time to connect with Allah by learning something new or remind yourself about aspects of the deen.

Gain beneficial knowledge

There is a plethora of content on the internet that we can use to gain beneficial knowledge and I find that listening to beneficial talks by respected scholars or teachers is the best method of learning whilst on the go.

The majority of us have smartphones, so it’s a simple matter of putting these devices to good use. A quick means of extracting useful knowledge is also to use sites that are easily accessible, and free to use. Choose a subject title that interests you and that lasts for approximately the same time as your journey. I usually choose a 30-minute talk to match my commute time or a couple of talks that last 15 minutes each and download from YouTube using a video converter. Alternatively, websites also have free talks that are ready to download. A great and easy resource for on-the-go knowledge is the Podcasts app.

It is best to prepare for the commute for the working week ahead, so I usually use the above technique to download five beneficial talks every Sunday evening, ready for my upcoming travels to work. An interesting point to note is that I keep a lot of the content that is especially relevant to me on my device, rather than deleting them once I have listened to it. I repeat the speeches again during a commute on another day in order to reinforce the lessons, until I have incorporated what I have learned into my actions.

I also like to use different methods of taking in knowledge to add variety to my learning, which helps me to maintain motivation to be. If you are sitting on the train or a bus, read a beneficial book on the way home; some ideas are, Yasmin Mogahed’s ‘Reclaim Your Heart’ or a factual biography of an influential Muslim, like the seerah of Prophet Muhammad , or Malcolm X or Muhammad Ali.

I recommend investing in an e-reader like a Kindle, so you can carry multiple books on one device, giving you the option of reading any book depending on your mood without having to carry extra weight. Books to download on e-readers also tend to be cheaper than hard copies, and you won’t waste space in your house storing these copies. However, there are those who prefer to hold physical books and turn the pages, so choose whatever you prefer. What is important is that you don’t waste this precious time, and once you start walking home, and are unable to continue to read, use this time to recite the part of the Qur’an you are attempting to memorize. Or, switch to your phone, plug in your earphones and listen to recitation of the Qur’an from your favorite reciter, or finish the talk from the morning if you haven’t already done so.

Engage in dhikr of Allah

Dhikr (or remembrance of Allah ) is an easy act, with high reward. Imagine using a one-hour drive or commute for making istighfar (seeking forgiveness), whilst knowing that istighfar increases provision (rizq) and causes sins to be forgiven. Or, how about spending that time sending repeated salah and salam on Prophet Muhammad , when you know that it causes your needs to be met?

Allah says,

“And said, ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever a Perpetual Forgiver. He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in [continuing] showers. And give you increase in wealth and children and provide for you gardens and provide for you rivers.” [Quran: Chapter 71, Verses 10-12]

And, RasulAllah said,

I [Ubayy ibn Ka’b] said: “O Messenger of Allah , I frequently invoke Allah to elevate your rank. How much of my supplications should I devote to you?” He said, “You may devote as much as you wish.” When I suggested a quarter, he said, “Do whatever you wish, but it will be better for you if you increase it.” I suggested half, and he said, “Do whatever you wish, but it will be better for you if you increase.” I suggested two- thirds, and he said, “Do whatever you wish but it will be better for you if you increase it.” I said, “Shall I devote all my supplications invoking Allah to elevate your rank?” He said, “Then you will be freed from your worries and your sins will be forgiven.” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]

From this ayah and hadith, it is clear that dhikr will have a huge impact on your work and the barakah that comes from it. During the busy working day, it is easy to forget our main purpose is to worship Allah , even while we are striving to earn money and support our families. Incorporating dhikr whilst knowing its reward will make your working day so much more meaningful.

2. Invest your lunch break smartly

For those of us lucky enough to have a lunch break, this is a precious hour not to be wasted. Most of us spend the entire hour eating whilst chatting to colleagues about last night’s TV show or something of that sort. Whilst I believe that interacting with colleagues is important, our lunch break should be spent more wisely and should be used to incorporate more dhikr.

Once you’ve prayed your afternoon salah, take a few minutes to recite Qur’an, whether from a small mushaf or an app on your phone. It is so important to incorporate recitation into your day and I feel that the afternoon break is the perfect time to step away from the busy surroundings, re-center ourselves and be reminded of our purpose. I like to use the hard copy but I do not carry a Qur’an with me to work. Instead, I use the Qur’an provided in the prayer room at work or an app, which bookmarks my place. I then adjust it based on what I have read at home and at work, so I am able to track my progress.

The rest of the hour can be used to nourish yourself, whilst spending time talking to people. Talk about beneficial matters, bounce ideas off of each other, learn more from your colleagues to help you grow and develop. If you do not work with people, read a beneficial book or articles from your favorite website – for example, you could check out the latest article on Productive Muslim!

3. Turn family time into an act of worship

You’ve just had an exhausting day at work, so it is time to give your mind a break. Although it may be tempting to shut yourself in your room and watch Netflix to relax, a better and more favorable way to unwind is to spend time with family or friends. Spend some time playing a board game with your younger siblings; help your mum or spouse out by clearing the table, or bake a cake with your family for your co-workers. Have a conversation with each other about how your days were, or teach them something new that you have learned from the knowledge you have gained that day.

If possible, do not take work home with you, but leave it at the door and spend precious time you have with the people you love. The Messenger of Allah said,

“Indeed among the believers with the most complete faith is the one who is the best in conduct, and the most kind to his family.” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]

4. Connect with Allah during the evening hours

It is said that if Shaitan can’t make you fall into sin, he’ll make you waste your time.

It is so easy to lie down on the sofa in the evening for 2 or 3 hours after work watching TV to unwind. You could end up wasting up to 20 hours a week staring into space, not stimulating your mind! If possible, take a couple of hours a week instead to attend a class that teaches Arabic or tajweed at your local mosque.

I understand that not all of us live in an area that offers beneficial classes, or some of us do not have the funds to be able to do this, and that’s fine! There are plenty of other ways to spend those precious hours you have in the evening. Luckily, we are blessed to have the technology to make our lives more convenient – what we should not do is waste that extra time being entertained by posts on Facebook or videos on YouTube. We are so lucky to live in a digital age where information is right at our fingertips.

If you want to learn Arabic, for example, there are plenty of websites that will help you learn the language for free, such as learnarabic.info, with free books to download. There are useful apps that you can use to track your progress such as ‘Habit Tracker’ that you can use to encourage you to develop an activity into a habit.

For example, reading one chapter of an Arabic textbook or memorizing part of a surah could be goals that you try to achieve a few evenings a week.

You choose what you want to learn in these few hours in the evening, but what is important is that you do not waste this time. It is also important to sleep early after the evening salah. Avoid spending time on social media late at night, which is often another tool people use to unwind that can easily eat into the precious time we have outside of work.

Another important act to incorporate during the night is qiyaam (night prayer). It is a common misconception, that night prayer is only prayed in the depths of the night whilst everyone is sleeping. This, however, is just one way to pray the night prayer, and actually, qiyaam can also be prayed right after Isha prayer before you sleep, or before Fajr begins. It carries immense reward, and we really have no excuse for missing it because it can be as little as two raka’ah.

Consider this hadith referring to the night prayer, where Prophet Muhammad said,

“If anyone prays at night reciting regularly ten verses, he will not be recorded among the negligent; if anyone prays at night and recites a hundred verses, he will be recorded among those who are obedient to Allah; and if anyone prays at night reciting one thousand verses, he will be recorded among those who receive huge rewards.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

So, practically speaking, Surah al Fatihah has seven verses. Add a short surah like An-Naas, or Al-Falaq and there you have your ten verses, and you won’t be recorded amongst the negligent!

Work is a necessary activity for most of us; it takes up the majority of time in our day, but, this does not have to mean that you miss out on gaining spiritual rewards and seeking the closeness of Allah . It is so important that the time we have outside of work is spent learning about our deen and attempting to perfect our practice as followers of Islam. The tips above are only a few of the ways to include spiritual nourishment into our busy work life.

Now tell us, how do you remain connected to Allah whilst working? Share your tips in the comments section below!

The post 4 Easy Ways to Boost Spirituality During Your Busy Working Day appeared first on ProductiveMuslim.com.

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