Monthly Archives: August 2011

Take responsibility for your life!

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I seek refuge with Allah SWT from satan the accursed.

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.

Say with conviction “I am the problem!”

Our Glorious Lord has taught us through the Quran that we are all responsible for our lives.  This means that whenever there is conflict between you and someone else, you must take responsibility for how you deal with the situation.  Unfortunately, many people start playing the victims in every situation, damning the other to hell, completely convinced of their moral superiority.

The next problem occurs when you have a moment of clarity and you see that you both were wrong, but your sensible thoughts are interrupted by satan, who says disguised as you, “It’s too late now. I don’t want to look pathetic and weak by admitting my fault after going through so much crap!”  Then you suffer crushing defeat by accepting satan’s proposition via your thoughts simply because they came to you and you were too lazy to consciously separate yourself from your thoughts.  Here is something you might want to write down on a post it note and stick it around your house and workplace: I am not my thoughts! I am the thinker of my thoughts.

Looking back at my own life, I can see that every time I had a difficult experience being around or working with someone, I often blamed the other person for being rude, selfish, obnoxious, and worst of all “unIslamic” and “sinful.”  But as much as I hate to admit it, with Allah’s blessing and guidance I now know and acknowledge that my experience of a past conflict should not simply be what the other person did or said to me, it all needs to be in relation to and in the context of what I did and said to that person.  Whether consciously or unconsciously, I instigated that person’s response, therefore, I helped to make that experience what it is, and so if I have to blame someone for the bitterness of that experience, I squarely place the blame on myself.  Strangely, doing so brings a certain sense of peace and tranquility to the mind and body.  It’s almost like you put yourself in these heavy chains without realizing that you have the keys to undo them whenever you want to.  We believe satan’s lies when he tells us that if we admit to anything then we face humiliation, belittling, and hardships.  Few of us actually challenge that notion and see for ourselves what really happens when we take responsibility for our experiences.

Hence, what you need to do is stop looking at yourself as a victim of circumstance.  You must become the master of circumstance by using every experience as a tool of self-improvement and growth.  You may not have control over the other person’s initial words and actions, but you do have control over what you say and do in response, which then in turn triggers the other person’s response, thereby shaping your experience. At times, you have to shift your perspective in order to shift the other person’s perspective.  There is a wise saying: If you change, everything changes for you.  

I hope you can stop blaming others for the hardships in your life.  Once you make it a habit to take responsibility for your own life, by the will of Allah SWT you will feel motivated and driven to make real and meaningful changes in your thought processes, words, and actions for a happier and more God-conscious you.

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Life changing experiment p3

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Read

Reading is something we all need to be doing on a daily basis.  If you feel reading is something that is not that important or beneficial, think again.  Research shows that unlike watching television, which is a passive process, reading is an active mental process because it forces us to use our brain.  It also provides other benefits such as improved focus, better memory, enhanced vocabulary, helps build self esteem, improves creativity, and even reduces boredom.  However, in order to maximize your benefits, it is crucial to make it a part of your daily routine.

This portion of the experiment can be done whatever time of day you choose, however the catch is that you must make it non-negotiable to read about 10 pages per day.  Over time, God willing, you will see the positive effects of the books on your behavior and life.The reason 10 pages per day is effective, is because most of us tend to pick up books and read a couple pages, or read a section and forget about it.  But if you make it non-negotiable to read 10 pages every day, then you set yourself up for better consistency in your reading habits.

Remember the high importance our faith gives to literacy.  In fact, the very first verses of  the Quran given to our beloved Prophet Mohammed pbuh began with the command to read:

“ Read in the name of your Lord Who created. He created man from a clot. Read and your Lord is Most Honorable.” (96:1-3)

By the grace of Allah SWT, I made the commitment to read about 10 pages per day, and I recently completed reading the biography of the Prophet pbuh by Tariq Ramadan.  Looking back, I realize that reading 10 pages per day really helped me build discipline in my reading habits and allowed me to complete the biography that otherwise I might not have completed.  If you are interested in a certain topic or theme, you would greatly benefit from researching the best written books for that field and then reading through them one by one.  Just know that it is small things done consistently that produce big results overtime.

Life changing experiment p2

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Top 10 list

How many of us have monotonous and dull days or even lives?  The problem is that most people fail to realize that Allah SWT gives us each day to live as a gift and blessing, and allows us to live that day in what ever manner we choose.  We do not have to be slaves to any specific activity or routine.

This brings me to the next component: Top 10 list.   This basically refers to using the first hour or so after waking up to make make a written or typed list of top ten priorities that must be either completed by yourself, or that must be delegated to someone else for completion within the next 24 hours.  This is an excellent way of improving productivity as it narrows your focus to what is important for the day and therefore brings out activities or things that would otherwise be floating around in your mind and pop up at random times when you may not be able to fulfill them.  Watch your productivity soar as you make this a non-negotiable part of your mornings.  Again, the idea is not so much to get bogged down with specific timings or details, but rather to focus on the completion of as many of the items on the list as possible.  This means that the next day, you have a different set of activities to do, or similar things with some differences.

Working on this module myself, I realized how much power Allah SWT has given us over our lives and how easily we fall prey to satan’s whisperings of believing we have no control or power.   We have been gifted the power to live each day as we choose to.  Indeed the Quran warns us:

“And Satan shall say after the affair is decided: Surely Allah promised you the promise of truth, and I gave you promises, then failed to keep them to you, and I had no authority over you, except that I called you and you obeyed me, therefore do not blame me but blame yourselves…”(14:22)

The idea again is to make it non-negotiable for every day of your life, and not get bogged down with the number 10 if it does not suit you.  It may even be a good idea to have one item on your list when you start, and add one more item each following day, in order to get accustomed to living in such a manner.

 

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Life Changing Experiment p1

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How do I change my life?  This is the question many of us ask at some point in our lives, but the sheer enormity of our question often scares us into submitting to our persisting state.  But before we jump to label such an attempt as futile, we need to first of all define what we mean by changing our lives.

I describe changing my life as the ability to live a better life that allows me to easily or naturally adhere to the core principles of Islam, while at the same time sets me up for a lifetime of personal growth.  

In light of this definition, I would like to invite you to engage in an experiment with me.  Life is, after all, built upon several of our personal experiments whereby we succeed or fail, but perhaps most importantly, we learn lessons and hopefully grow from our experiences.  The experiment I am currently conducting and would like you to conduct if you have the drive to change your life for the better, is based on the ideas put forth by a motivational speaker by the name of Darren Jacklin.  I feel like what he suggests fits beautifully with what Allah SWT expects of us.

Good Morning Gratitude

…and Allah will reward the grateful.” (3:144)

Morning is the best time to start to make any changes in your life.  By morning, I mean the first two to three hours after waking up.  If you delay new changes to later on in the day, it is very likely you will lose willpower or get busy in other activities and therefore miss your chance to instill an important change in your life.

Keeping this in mind, you must make it non-negotiable every morning after waking up, to consciously thank Allah SWT for your blessings.  To give you an example from my own life experiment, I often start thanking Allah while still in bed, thanking him for giving me life again, for providing me with sleep to recover my body and mind, for giving me a comfortable bed and a blanket, air conditioner, hands to open doors, and so on.  As you can see, there are so many things to be grateful for and so even if you spend a total of 1 to 2 minutes actively thanking Allah SWT for His blessings each morning, it will make a huge difference over time.  As the Quran states, “If you tried to number God’s blessings, you could never count them. God is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (16:18)

Plus, in my experiment, the results are already astounding, as after just 3 days of consistently working on this, I found that I started to remember to thank Allah SWT more often during my day for other blessings.  Hence, the morning or the start of your day is an extremely powerful time to make necessary life changes if you take advantage of it.  You could even thank Allah SWT while making breakfast, or taking a shower, or even write or type your words of gratitude.  The idea is to make it non-negotiable to consciously thank Allah SWT by letting Him know what specific things that you are grateful for.  By specific, I mean do not just say thank You for giving me hands, but go further by specifying why you are thankful for your hands, so go over what you use your hands for.  You do not have to list every little thing, but instead focus on as many as keep you in a state of awe and humility.

Allah SWT’s law concerning sincere gratitude is revealed in the Quran:

“If you give thanks, I will surely give you more.” (14:7)

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