What will be the legacy you leave behind?

Our time on earth is limited. Nobody lives forever. However, there is a way to extend our short lifespans and that is to leave a shining legacy behind. A legacy that will have people benefit from our life’s work and pray for us long after we are dead and gone. A life lived for making this world a better place for everyone is a life worth living. A selfless life is a fulfilled, happy life. So, in light of these wisdoms, what should be our legacy? What should shape our lives that we live it making the world a better place for everyone? The answer lies first and foremost in the God given abilities for each individual. Secondly, the environment or the time period and the opportunities that are availed by the individual play a huge part in shaping who they really are.

It goes without saying, one of the most fundamental successes are to find our calling, something that we were truly meant to be. Anyone who puts in the required effort can become a doctor, for example, but some people really shine as doctors since they have the necessary skills and the demeanor to be just that good that they exude the aura of success and confidence and people just can’t help but exclaim, that he is really such a good doctor. Or such an exceptional teacher. Or such a creative engineer. Or such a valued mentor. Or such a visionary leader or philanthropist or… You get the idea.

Secondly, the environment and the time period that they find themselves in, is a huge player in shaping their ultimate future. Take Steve Jobs (late, of Apple) or Bill Gates (of Microsoft) or Larry Ellison (of Oracle) or Jeff Bezos (of Amazon) or Elon Musk (of Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity & The Boring Company) as examples. They became great entrepreneurs, each in their own right. You could say that their success depended on their God given abilities plus the environment, time period and opportunities that they availed.

In order to find our true calling, we need to take a hard look at ourselves and pick an area that we can be truly great. Maybe get a good mentor who can pinpoint the right character trait to focus on. They check out the opportunities that are likely all around us that we could utilize to build our own legacy for ourselves.

And Allah knows best.

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Cleanliness ain’t Optional

Life is meant to be lived in a clean environment. Cleanliness is healthy. Filth is a breeding ground for diseases. No one likes to live in or around filthy areas. All of us want our families to be in clean environments that promotes a healthy lifestyle. Everyone hates garbage piling up and swarming with flies and mosquitoes and all manners of creatures from cockroaches and rats. These are common sense statements. However, like they say, common sense ain’t so common anymore.

From an Islamic perspective, cleanliness is one of the fundamental conditions for good Muslim societies and individuals. Cleanliness is half of the religion (of Islam). Every book of fiqh (jurisprudence) starts off with the book of Tahara (or purification). Prayers are not accepted if there is filth on the body or clothes or the place of prayer. So Islam not only encourages cleanliness, it requires it from us. We have to invest time, money and effort to ensure a clean environment. It is not optional.

Generally, cleanliness is a communal effort. The people need to ensure that the local government should have a sustainable garbage management system in place with enough money budgeted to make it work from start to finish. The people also need to ensure that there are measures in place against littering and to ensure that people do not dirty their environment and clean up after themselves. There needs to be fines associated with it and enforced properly. There also needs to be an awareness and an ownership of the issue in the people: people should feel proud of achieving a clean environment and ashamed of a dirty environment. There need to be advertising campaigns to ensure the right attitude towards cleanliness is promoted with the society everywhere.

Everyone needs to do their part to make the surroundings cleaner for everyone. Everyone needs to stop throwing garbage everywhere. Everyone needs to call out anyone that litters and ask them to not do that. Don’t wait for others to take the initiative, start yourself today. Promote a clean lifestyle with everything you do or say. Make dawah about cleanliness within your circle of influence.

And Allah knows best!

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How to live a life without worrying

Everyone wants a worry free life but not many people know how to do that. Everyone worries about various aspects of life. Some worry more than others. But virtually everyone does worry about one thing or another. Some people worry so much that they might even forget to eat due to the stress. Or eat too much. Or they might go into a state of depression or despair. But this is not the only way to live. Living without worrying about life’s challenges is possible. It requires some effort. It requires learning to develop our faith in Allah. It requires that we put our trust in Allah. It requires we call upon Allah alone. And we rely on Him alone to provide for us, guide us to a fulfilled life, guarantee us salvation in the hereafter and protect us from all evil in this life and in the everlasting hereafter.

Allah is sufficient for all of us. Allah listens to our prayers. He is our provider and our protector. To live a life without worry, let Allah handle all our affairs. This doesn’t mean we do not do the required work to get things done or earn a halal livelihood for our families. Letting Allah handle our affairs means we call upon Him to make our life’s challenges easy for us and to help us out every step of the way. Then we get to work to do our part (such as working to earn our livelihood etc.). This also means that we learn what is lawful in the sight of Allah and what is unlawful. So we stay within the allowed (halal/lawful) facing any of our life’s struggles and challenges.

Another aspect of living a fulfilled life, free of worry, is to help others. It is the sunnah of Allah that helps those who help others. If we resolve someone’s issues, Allah will resolve our issues. If we forgive someone who may have wronged us, Allah will forgive us on the Day of Judgment and make our lives easier for us.  The best example for a fulfilled life for us is the life of our beloved Prophet (ﷺ) and how he helped humanity and preached the same to his companions. He created a generation of people who loved to help others. For the sake of Allah alone.

And Allah knows best.

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How to Get Our Hearts at Peaceful Rest

We all cherish peace of mind. Indeed we all need it. And when we are not at peace with whatever, we crave that peace of mind with all of our body and soul. We have such a big need for it as human beings. So it is only natural that our Creator, Sustainer God has given us precise instructions of how to get this peace and tranquility that our hearts desire so much. We find these instructions in the Quran and the Sunnah.

The Quran tells us that the real peace that our hearts desire is found in the remembrance of Allah. Not meaningless utterances of remembrance but conscious, meaningful remembrance of Allah. Our hearts do indeed find peaceful rest in Allah’s remembrance. Allah explains this in the Quran in this famous verse:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

Saheeh International Translation: Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.

Obviously, a pre-requisite to all this is to have full faith in Allah alone. In order to have proper faith in Allah, learn about Allah and remember Allah with the proper etiquette. The remembrance of Allah is in the five daily prayers, the recitation of the Quran with meaning, the many duaa and zikr that have been related to us by the Prophet (ﷺ) during his life and recorded by his companions. These remembrances are readily available in authentic books of Azkaar and Duaa. Read them after learning their meanings. Read them daily during the mornings and during the evenings. Pray the five daily prayers on time. Recite the Quran daily even if just a little bit, with understanding. Once we establish a connection with our Lord, we will definitely have discovered the peace that our hearts so desire.

Without this peace of mind, peace of heart, peace in general, we feel that queasy feeling of being disturbed to our core. This feeling has nothing to do with material possessions, health or even family. This is much deeper than that. We could have all the wealth in the world, be healthy and have a loving family around us, we would still not be at peace in our core if we don’t have the guidance to have faith in Allah. This might be hard to imagine for some but it is the God honest truth.

And Allah knows best.

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Learning the Quran & Teaching Others

Learning the Quran should be a priority for every Muslim. Not only is the Quran a source of knowledge, it is also a source of countless blessings. It is the word of Allah. The Quran speaks to us to inform us of what Allah requires from us. Imagine that. The Creator of everything telling us why He has created us and what He wants us to do and what He wants us not to do! All of this because He wants us to succeed. It is therefore upon us to do our utmost to find out what Allah says in the Quran.

Since the Quran is in the Arabic language, it is important that we acquire as much Arabic language as necessary to understand the Quran in its original Arabic. It is not an impossible task for anyone. There are tons of resources available online these days to learn it ourselves or enroll in a class and learn it locally in our own city/country. If we put our minds to it, we can all do it relatively easily inshaaAllah!

خيركم من تعلم القرأن وعلمه

From the meaning of this well known Hadith, we learn that the best of people are those who learn the Quran and teach it to others. It should be the goal of all Muslims to try to achieve the status of the best of people by striving hard to learn the Quran properly, to read it with Tajweed, to learn the Arabic necessary to understand the meanings in the original Arabic.

Furthermore, it should be our goal to put what we learn into practice in our daily lives. The first step after understanding is to internalize the teachings of the Quran by implementing them into our lives to the best of our ability.

Finally, it should be our aim to teach what we learn to others. With the help of Allah we can become the best of people by learning the Quran and then teaching it to others.

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Reading As a Habit

Reading is a habit that everyone should try their best to acquire. It is one of the easiest ways to gain knowledge that one can do on their own long after having left school. If you’re not reading regularly, you’re doing yourself a disservice. There is so much good reading material out there on every subject for every type of person and interest. Reading is a great way to learn from a large number of people who have taken the time and exerted a lot of effort to write quality books that we can all benefit from.

It is not a difficult habit to acquire and cherish our entire lives. It does require though that we find the right kinds of books to get the most benefit out of them. It is easy to fall into the trap of reading junk. Reading does transform our thinking to varying degrees, depending on what and how much one is reading. It does become quite important therefore to find the useful books and stay away from useless and specially damaging books. Do some research and find good books (reader ratings are a good way to check), get recommendations from your friends & family. Even libraries have recommendations. You can also create a profile on one of the online reading communities (such as goodreads.com or librarything.com or other such resources).

Make reading a lifelong thing, a lifestyle if you will. It doesn’t matter if you go through phases of your life where you’re not regularly reading a lot but always try to be on the lookout for a good book. Make a list of books you’d like to read and try to get those books and allocate time in your life to read them. Your future self will thank you.

Make yourself a goal: read at least one new book every month (or more or less) depending on what you’d like to get out of this habit.

It doesn’t matter which language we read in as long as we are reading quality books. Books provide good perspectives from various people, so try to read books from various authors not just one.

Aside from traditional books, there are audio and eBook options available. I enjoy all types of medium as long as the content is good and well written and in an area that I find interesting. So get out there and read something today!

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I am who I am because of my surroundings

Our family and society largely determine who we are. We are born to our parents that none of us can choose. We grow up in a country, culture, religion that none of us can pick. We seem to have some ability to choose some of our education, our profession and spouses, but that too is determined by what’s acceptable to our family and available in the society.

The fact of the matter is, we hardly have a choice in these matters. What we have are choices to make between doing the right things (not lying, not cheating, not overcharging, not underpaying, not hurting others etc.) which are universally regarded as the right things by every human society no matter where we find ourselves living.

Therefore, to think of others as inferior based upon their cultural background, economic status, color of their skin, level of their education or some such arbitrary measure is arrogant and insane.

In Islam, we are taught that no one is better than the other except those that are closest to Allah, our Creator. And no human being can claim to know who is closer to Allah and who is not. Therefore it makes no sense to discriminate. It also makes no sense to be boastful about ones own self, our abilities, our social status, our financial standing, our educational level, cultural background or the color of our skin. Largely because we didn’t acquire these things on our own, but also because we are not qualified to determine who is better.

We should therefore, embrace our differences, come together as one humanity and make this world a better place for everyone. If we don’t, then we only have ourselves to blame. We cannot individually solve world hunger, but we can each do our small part and contribute to the common goal and together we can solve it with the help of Allah!

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The Character of a Muslim

A wise old man was sitting at the river bank when he saw a cat that had fallen into the water, flailing around, trying to save itself from drowning. The man decided to save the cat. He stretched his hand out but was scratched by the cat. He pulled his hand back in pain. However, a minute later he stretched his hand out again to save the cat, but it scratched him again, and again he pulled his hand back in pain. Another minute later he was yet again trying for the third time!
A man, who was nearby watching what was happening, yelled out: “O wise man, you have not learned your lesson the first time, nor the second time, and now you are trying to save the cat a third time?”

The wise man paid no heed to that man’s scolding, and kept on trying until he managed to save the cat. He then walked over to the man, and patted his shoulder saying: “My son.. it is in the cat’s nature to scratch, and it is in my nature to love and have sympathy. Why do you want me to let the cat’s nature overcome mine!?!!

My son: Treat people according to your nature, not according to theirs, no matter what they are like and no matter how numerous are their actions that harm you and cause you hurt sometimes.

And do not pay heed to all the voices that loudly call out to you to leave behind your good qualities merely because the other party is not deserving of your noble actions.

When you live to give happiness to others, Allah will send you those who will live to give happiness to you.

“Is the reward for good anything but good?” -Qur’an 55:60

Be beautiful in character and hearts will like you. So never regret the moments you gave happiness to someone, even if that person did not deserve it. And suffice in the fact that you have a Lord Who will reward you for good with good.

“The entire Deen is (about) good character, so whoever exceeds you in good character, has exceeded you in the Deen.” – Ibn al Qayyum

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said “Nothing will be heavier on the Day of Resurrection in the scale of the believer than good manners. Allah hates one who utters foul or coarse language.” [Tirmidhi]

اللهم أنت حسنت خلقي فحسن ﺧﻠﻘﻲ 

O Allah you’ve beautified my outward appearance, so beautify my character.

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Things to Avoid During Ramadan

1. Don’t sleep during the day and pray all night. By doing this you are converting the day into night and the night into day, which is not the purpose of fasting.

2. Avoid being lazy and inactive during the day.

3. Don’t waste time playing games during the day. Rather, please Allah by increasing in your worship of him.

4. Avoid having Iftar parties. Ramadan wasn’t meant to be a food extravaganza.

5. Don’t ask your wife to spend Ramadan in the Kitchen. Eat something light and quick – she isn’t Biryani woman.

6. Spend the last 10 days worshipping Allah rather than trying to prepare for Eid! A day that is better than a thousand months is in these last 10 days. You can’t afford to miss this.

7. Dont stay awake the full night. Your body has a right over you, and when it wants rest, then rest.

8. Avoid excessive socialising after Taraweeh

9. Avoid shopping a lot in Ramadhaan.

10. Don’t eat the full night.

11. Don’t loiter around at night rather than worshipping Allah.

12. Eid doesn’t require loads of preparation. Don’t fall into this trap! Keep it simple, and it will be blessed.

 

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