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Posts from the ‘Productivity’ Category

20
Jun

So how’s the Ramadan preparation going?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

So, how is it going?

If the answer is  “Aaah….” or “Eek!!” or something similar to that, I would advise the following:

1) Get a piece of paper and a pen.

2) Write down why you feel so unprepared for Ramadan.

[Don’t think the answers, please write them down. Trust me, there is a BIG difference.]

Make sure that you write specific things e.g. prayers are not going well, last year’s fasts are still pending, preparing to travel, etc.

3) Now, for each point, write down how you can improve upon it in the next 4 weeks (that’s all that we have left).

4) Do loads of dua (supplication) and istighfar (seeking forgiveness). Also, start working on that list on a day-to-day basis.

So, if the prayers aren’t going well, then take it one day at a time. Don’t think of the next 29 days. Just think of TODAY.

5) Write down mini-goals for each day and then review those at the end of the day.

[Daily mini-goals really work, trust me, That’s what I’ve been doing so far and it’s working out quite well, alhamdulillah.]

6) Don’t even think of entering Ramadan unprepared.

Don’t say “Oh it’s too late”. No, it’s not too late. You still have a whole month, so strive and have good thoughts about Allah.

Besides, you’ll get the reward for the extra effort you’re putting in, insha-Allah.

If you need more tips, here’s what I wrote at the same time last year.

So once again, if you haven’t started preparing for Ramadan, please try to start TODAY. 

Remember, a little adds up to a lot. As for “nothing”, well, it doesn’t add up to anything except zero.

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19
Jun

A Pictorial Summary of Shaban then vs. Shaban now

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Yes, we’re almost in Shaban.

SHABAN THEN (i.e. in the good old days)

________________________________________________________________

SHABAN NOW

19
Apr

“That’s not going to work!”

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

You know, I really, really hate that statement.

[That’s probably why I never ask most people what they think of my ideas –  because I know that they’ll say “That’s not going to work!”

What I do instead is mention the idea as though it were the most awesome idea in the world so they have no choice but to nod their heads.]

Many times, whenever I tell people that they CAN do something (that is encouraged in the Shariah), their reply is usually “It won’t work” or something equivalent to that. They don’t even give themselves two minutes to think over it.

This awful statement basically causes us to drown in our own negativity.

It also goes against one of the basics of tawheed (worshipping Allah alone): having good thoughts about Allah.

I mean, why exactly won’t it work?

Who is the One who has power over all things?

Who is the One who created the heavens and the earth?

Who is the One that made the fire cool for Ibrahim (alaihissalam)?

Who is the One that split the sea for Musa (alaihissalam)?

Who is the One that caused Isa (alaihissalam) to be born without a father?

Who is the One that sent the angels to help our Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and his companions (radiallahu anhum) defeat their enemies, despite being outnumbered, in the Battle of Badr?

So, the One who did all this, isn’t He also able to aid us in our cause? Why is that we don’t ask Him?

Rather than going on about how one cannot do something, one should do the following instead:

1) Make sure that the action is halal (lawful)

One can also to Salatul Istikhara (the prayer for guidance)

2) Dua (supplication) – Loads of it

One should ask with certainty and with humility.

3) Write down a list of possible steps to take

These are the means that one can and should take in order to achieve the required goal.

Also, one should try to take from the Sunnah as much as possible. For example, if one is trying to figure how to control one’s troublesome teenager, one should first refer to Islamic books to see if there is any Prophetic guidance in this regard. After this, one may refer to other books.

4) Put one’s trust in Allah alone

We are not allowed to put our trust in the means.

5) Have good thoughts about Allah at all times

Yes, all the time.

And no, these steps are not complicated, because contrary to many people’s perceptions, life itself is not that complicated. For some strange reason, we just don’t want to believe that!

So, I’d advise all the naysayers to try to be more positive and take things step by step.

Follow all the above steps and insha-Allah, if it’s good for you, it will work.

3
Apr

A Pictorial Summary of Our Favourite Excuse…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

So you ask someone to do something useful.

Their reply?

It’s almost like this word is pasted all over the walls.

So what exactly are they busy doing, one wonders?

Yes, that just about summarises it.

A sister once mentioned that “busy” was just a short form for:

Being

Under

Satan’s

Yoke

[Meaning being under the devil’s control.]

All sarcasm aside, this issue is a very important one. Whenever one asks another to worship Allah, this is the only response that one hears!

“I’m too busy!”

Can someone actually be too busy to worship Allah???

We need to ask ourselves two simple questions:

1) Are we really that busy?

2) If so, then what are we busy doing?

Insha-Allah, I’m going to have a post later this week that discusses this issue. [Yes, I’m going to dissect this excuse.]

2
Apr

Ramadan 2012 Prep: The various things that we need to work on…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Insha-Allah, I’ll be starting a new series on preparing for Ramadan 2012 (much like the ones I had the previous 2 years).

I think that all of us need to work on the following ahead of Ramadan:

1) Ibaadah (worship)

This includes our prayers, fasting, charity, dua (supplication), adhkar (remembrance), reciting the Quran, etc. 

2) Seeking knowledge

This is something that each and every one of us needs to do: seek knowledge.

Why? Because we need to worship Allah based on knowledge, not on our own fantasies, desires or logic.

So in order for us to worship Him based on knowledge, we need to learn this knowledge first. Simple, isn’t it?

Insha-Allah, the first few posts of this series will focus on this aspect because this is the main problem that most people have (from what I’ve seen anyway).

I’m going to cover learning Arabic (and understanding the Quran), as well as give an overview of the various sciences of Islam.

3) Health and Fitness

[Yes, I am rather obsessed with this topic. I’m sure you’ve noticed.]

So, we want to fast the whole day (without sleeping) and not end up stuffing our faces at iftar time.

We also want to then stand up in prayer the whole night without dozing off.

Okay, this is not going to happen if the only time we use the word “walk” in our daily lives is “I’m going to walk to the elevator.”

We need to MOVE. And we also need to eat properly.

This is our third major problem (after lack of knowledge and ibaadah). It’s one of the reasons why many of us are always tired. We’re just not fit enough.

So, in order for us NOT to sleepwalk through Ramadan, we have to start working on this aspect.

4) Logistics and planning

Okay, I wasn’t sure how to phrase this one. What I meant was all the other stuff that we need to take care of.

For example, suppose you are not sure what you’ll be doing come July and August (especially as this is holiday time for most people). You need to plan and make sure that the environment you’ll be in is conducive to having a proper Ramadan.

Many people want to have their summer holidays so they go abroad. Well, one needs to make sure that they aren’t going for Kenyan safaris during Ramadan, if you know what I mean.

So, those are the four areas that I plan to cover, inshaAllah.

[I had originally planned to make worksheets as I’ve found them to be very helpful, but seeing that most people have difficulty finding time to participate in polls and surveys, etc, I realised that it wouldn’t be very helpful because most people wouldn’t use them.]

Are there any others that you can think of? If so, please do share, barakallahu feekum.

As for the other series, yes, I plan to continue with them as well, insha-Allah. This will include the Lord of the Worlds series.

Are there any other things that you’d like me to focus on? Or any particular topics that you’d like me to address? As I’ve said before, this is our blog, not my blog.

[I’ve read all the previous suggestions and I plan to implement them, insha-Allah. I meant something else in addition to these.]

Lastly, please remember that if we truly want something, we will put in the effort. [Remember this post?]

PS. I don’t think I’ll be very consistent in posting for the next 2.5 months because of other work that I need to focus on. I’ll try, insha-Allah but no promises.

25
Aug

So, who are you helping out in Ramadan? – Part 2

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Here’s Part 1.]

Okay, this post is quite late but it’s okay. You can use the ideas for post-Ramadan projects as well.

I’m just mentioning a few right now. I’ll mention the rest in another post later on, insha-Allah.

Some dawah ideas

[Here’s a nice website for dawah: http://www.dawahdesk.com/ It’s a virtual one stop thingy for aspiring daees.

Oh and it takes every possible opportunity to talk about tawheed (worshipping Allah alone). I like that.]

1) Give Hisnul Muslim (Fortress of the Muslim dua book) to every Muslim that you can find. They’ll love you for it.

And if you give it to them in their own language, they’ll love you even more.

However, if you don’t care about their love, then at least think about all the rewards you’ll get every time they read from the book.

Ooh.

2) Download some nice authentic lectures or the recitation of the Quran with the translation, and burn it onto a CD and then pass it on.

People can listen to it in their cars (and most people do, believe me).

3) Help the ill to pray by giving them books about prayer for ill people.

This one is my professor’s idea.

He pointed out that rather than giving an ill person (in hospital)  sweets or gifts, it would be better to give them a small booklet showing them how they could pray in their current state.

4) Buy some small Islamic books and give them to people who might read them.

If you work in an office, you can just keep some books on your desk, so that anyone who comes to talk to you can spot them. After they ask about them, you innocently ask them if they want to read the books…

5) Start a blog.

It works. Trust me.

6) I heard of a sister that sends dates and other Ramadanish stuff to Muslims in South American countries.

I thought that this was a great idea and a real heart softener.

7) Good at designing? Well, why don’t you make some nice dawah posters? Everyone loves well-designed stuff.

Some charity ideas

1) Compile a list of the needy and send an email to all your contacts out asking for donations.

Oh and this only works if people are convinced that you won’t embezzle their money.

2) Send an SMS to your contacts asking them to help out a certain poor person.

If they don’t reply, send them another SMS.

3) You could help everyone out by collecting people’s zakaatul fitr for them and then passing it on to the poor.

4) Forward emails about authentic charity cases. Believe me, you have no idea who might be willing to help.

5) Collect a dirham each day from all your family members and then distribute it at the end of the month to the poor.

Some health project ideas

1) Visit the ill people in the hospital who have no relatives in town.

Many of these people aren’t critically ill but they are very depressed. [Hospitals are enough to make the happiest people depressed. They’ve got the most awful smell.]

2) Perhaps you could find out which people in your area has some health issues and then try to collect money for their cause.

3) Distribute black seed oil. It’s wonderful and it’s from the sunnah.

4) Donate blood.

Okay, that’s it for now. I know the ideas were simple but hey, we have to start somewhere, right?

26
Jul

A Pictorial Summary of some of the things that we might need to bid farewell to during Ramadan…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

So, let’s say:

Oops. Wrong Language.

One more time then.

Let’s say:

To what, you ask?

Well, to:

And to:

And to:

[That Reese peanut butter chocolate is really tasty.]

And to:

[Actually, we could ditch this one permanently. I think all the husbands will celebrate and so will all the poor people who can get this money as charity.]

That’s all we need to leave, you ask?

Erm no. This was just a summary. You can find all our resolutions here.

[Oh and here’s my memorable rant from last year.]

24
Jul

So, who are you helping out in Ramadan? – Part 1

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Once a upon a time, Ramadan was a month of giving. Today, it seems to have become a month of taking.

During Ramadan, we all become so busy with our own ibaadah (worship) like fasting, praying and reciting the Quran, that we sometimes forget that helping others is also a great act of ibaadah.

It was something that the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) practiced all the time and he increased in it during Ramadan.

كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أجود الناس ، وكان أجود ما يكون في رمضان حين يلقاه جبريل ، وكان يلقاه في كل ليلة من رمضان فيدارسه القرآن ، فلرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أجود بالخير من الريح المرسلة

Narrated Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhu): “Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Jibreel met him. Jibreel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Quran. Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds).” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 1, Hadeeth No. 5]

Here are some pointers for those who want to follow the sunnah (way of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam)) of helping out others:

1) Please don’t look at the size of your project.

Even if you’re helping out just ONE person, then go ahead and do it. Too often, we mislead ourselves into thinking that bigger is better and due to this, we don’t do anything because we think that it’s pointless to start such a small project.

NO!

If each of us helped just one person, then believe me, everyone would be taken care of!

2) Today it could be one, tomorrow it might be two.

I remember something that a friend of mine told me. She pointed out how each person has a circle of influence. As a person does more, his/her circle of influence will grow.

So, today you might just be helping out one person. In time, you might start helping out more people so perhaps in a few Ramadans time, you could be helping out a thousand people, insha-Allah. You never know.

[And anyway, the point is not how many people we help. It’s whether or not Allah accepts our efforts because that is the most important thing.]

3) Do something that YOU are interested in.

You’d be amazed at how any people work on things that they’re not interested in.

[Don’t ask me why they do that because it does not make any sense to me.]

Note to parents: Don’t bully your children into doing projects of YOUR choice. Let them choose what they want to do. This way, you won’t have to push them into working on the project.

4) Be practical.

Yeah, we all want to save the world but Ramadan will be over in 40 days.

We’ll try to save the world next year, insha-Allah. In the meantime, we’ll work on a nice doable, project this year.

5) Work with others. Don’t compete with them.

For example, suppose you want to prepare Eid gifts for the orphans in your area, and you find out that there are a few people already doing that.

Why not try to find out if you can work with those people rather than doing something on your own?

Too often, we don’t want to work with others because of our huge egos. [Sorry, but it’s the truth.]

6) Don’t overdo it.

“How can one overdo helping others”, you ask?

Well, some people become so involved in this that they forget their own ibaadah and their own priorities. So, for example, they help every poor person that they can but forget their own priorities.

I recall a sister asking me about a man who gave charity to everyone that he possible could yet did not give his own wife enough money for her needs!

7) You could work on dawah, charity, health, etc projects.

Ideas?

Yes, I have plenty, alhamdulillah, but that’s for Part 2, insha-Allah.

To be continued…

19
Jul

How to get more energy…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Yes, I know. The title sounds like it belongs to a health blog, which is what this blog seems to be turning into.]

That’s the million (zillion?) dirham question, isn’t it?

This past week, I’ve been plotting how to get energy because, whilst I have time alhamdulillah, my engine seems to always be running on empty.

And it can’t be this way during Ramadan.

So, I asked myself “What increases me in energy?”

A few notes before I begin:

– Energy, like everything else, comes from Allah, the Most High. So if we want it, we need to ask for it.

Yes, we have to take the means (which is what this post is about) but we don’t rely on these means, rather we put our trust in Allah.

– I am not a health practitioner so please check everything I say with one of them.

– I know many people who read things and then say “Oh we can’t do that!”. If that’s the attitude that a person has to any suggestion that is presented to them, then it would be better for them not to waste their time reading those suggestions.

However, if you read, try to read with a positive attitude and don’t dismiss everything immediately. Think about it for a while first.

[And no, I’m not just referring to what you read on this blog. This is general advice for any article or book that you read or any lecture that you listen to.

– Like all of you, I’m a human and I make mistakes. Therefore, not everything mentioned in this blog might be correct. It’s up to you to verify everything that you read here (or anywhere else for that matter).

1) Ibaadah (worship) and seeking knowledge.

They increase one in energy, you ask?

Of course.

Haven’t you even felt re-energised after an Islamic lecture or after performing taraweeh prayer?

Fasting is an act that gives us great energy (and it does not make us weak, remember?).

However, the first few days are somewhat tiring which is why, I once again highly recommend that everyone starts fasting BEFORE Ramadan.

Someone might say: “Well, why does productivity go down during Ramadan then?”

Does it? In the Prophet’s (salallahu alaihi wasallam) time, it used to go up.

Even if it goes down in this time, it doesn’t mean that it is due to the fasting. The problem is with us, not with the fasting.

2) Exercise

You know, I love exercise, really I do. The only thing that I love more than exercise is ibaadah and seeking knowledge.

Now I don’t always do exercise because of various reasons (laziness, being busy, etc) but I still love it nonetheless.

However, most people hate exercise which is most unfortunate, as exercise can really give one an energy boost.

There were days when I felt very tired, only to feel refreshed after working out.

Now, someone might say “Hey, where’s the time to work out in Ramadan? And we’ll be fasting!”

Firstly, if you don’t have time, then make time. Simple.

Secondly, the people of the past fought wars during Ramadan, and we have difficulty walking from one room to another. Why is that?

Just because a person is fasting, it does not mean that they should be inactive. I can’t understand where this concept of “resting whilst fasting” came from, because it’s not there in the Quran or the Sunnah.

Thirdly, I’m not asking anyone to workout for a couple of hours. A 10 to 30 minute walk daily would be a good start. You could also add some other exercises and therefore be done with the whole thing in less than an hour.

Also, if you can’t do it daily, then try to do it as much as possible.

When can you work out in Ramadan?

Excellent question.

I realised that the best time for me was to do it after Asr. I’ve trying it this past week and even did it whilst I was fasting.

It was excellent. I felt so tired when Asr came but I was refreshed by the time I  broke my fast.

I think this would be good in Ramadan because 1) I can eat within an hour of exercising and 2) I’ll be refreshed and re-energised for taraweeh prayers.

“What about iftar preparations?” scream the women.

Sigh. You can cook before that, can’t you?

Also, if you exercise right after Asr, for less than an hour, you’ll have over an hour and a half for all the iftar prep.

Not into this idea? Fair enough. You could also consider:

a) Before suhoor – This is a really blessed time though and should be used for prayer but if you want to take a brisk 10 minute walk, it’s up to you.

b) After Fajr – Everyone feels fresh at this time.

c) After Maghrib –  The time isn’t a lot so a person would really have to rush.

d) Any other time – This is for people who are used to working out.

Now, someone might say: “Should we really be wasting Ramadan, the month of ibaadah, doing exercises?”

Well, if you understand the meaning of ibaadah, then you’ll realise that exercising can also become an ibaadah if a person does it with the proper intention.

3) Healthy food

“Healthy” being the operative word.

Eating burgers after taraweeh? No wonder we’re tired.

So, what should we eat?

a) Prophetic Food

This refers to all that stuff mentioned in the Sunnah. Ibn Al-Qayyim’s book contains a lot of information.

Amongst the foods and drinks that should be part of our menu: talbeenah (drink made of barley), dates, zam zam, black seeds and honey (pure, not that fake stuff from the supermarket). [All of these are mentioned in the book.]

Also, apart from the food, you might also want to try cupping. That would be very good for someone who suffers from bad blood circulation.

Note: A person doing it for the first time will feel tired for the first few days which is why I’d recommend you do it at least a week before Ramadan.

b) Fruits and vegetables

Yep.

c) Nuts

For those memorising the Quran: try almonds and walnuts. They’re supposed to be good for the memory.

d) Drink enough water

Feeling tired all the time? Perhaps it’s just dehydration.

If you follow the 8 glasses a day rule, you can try to drink 2 glasses during suhoor and 6 glasses between maghrib and the time that you go to sleep.

Coconut water is also good for dehydration.

e) Dairy

We need calcium, really we do. I’ve noticed it really helps fight fatigue (at least for me).

f) Vitamins and other food supplements.

I think that these really do help especially for those of us who don’t eat all types of food.

One supplement that does give energy is those ginseng tablets. You can feel the effects a few days after you start taking them. However, I noticed that the effect only lasts for about 3 weeks.

So, if you are really short of energy, try to take them in the second week of Ramadan so that they work for the last 10 days.

Flax seeds are another good supplement. They contain omega 3. As I’m not in the medical field, I’m afraid that I can’t explain more than that. All I know is that they give ENERGY.

g) Leave the useless food.

You know, burgers, hot dogs, etc.

Also, leave high glycemic index foods.

If you really can’t leave without the fast food, then at least try to stick to “decent” fast foods like Subway, pizzas, etc. 

Pizzas are decent, you ask? Well, not the Pizza Hut ones, but the ones from restaurants, depending on their topping, are relatively decent, especially if you take one with lots of vegetables.

You might also want to say bye to the caffeine. If you really need some, try to switch to green tea, which has many health benefits.

When should we eat all the above? We can split it between suhoor and iftar.

One final note: If you start doing all the above ASAP, remember that it will still take some time to show the results, perhaps 2-3 weeks, insha-Allah.

So, there was nothing groundbreaking in this post. I think most people know about these ways. We just need to apply it, that’s all.