PLANNING FOR SUCCESS

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Evaluating and assessing is very important to improve ourselves. If we’re unsure of what we should, or want to do, we cannot analyse and measure whether or not we were successful.

Our level of faith (Iman) fluctuates depending on our actions, efforts and intentions. To keep our Iman high we need to work to increase our knowledge, belief and good deeds. Deep down we all know what needs doing. Make that change and strive to improve today! إن شاء الله

Prepare. Make effort to plan, live and prioritise our lives and find the right balance of what truly would give us happiness and everlasting success.

Islam encourages us to ponder, question, analyse, plan and prioritise. Writing things down, and having a vision which includes specific – measurable – attainable – realistic – time-bound (commonly abbreviated as SMART) targets is one way of planning which can be applied to many aspects of life; so that we improve, come closer to Allah and also so that our worship is accepted إن شاء الله.

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We can plan our time and decide what we would like to eradicate or implement. This could be more charity, Dhikr, fasting, night prayers, or being more helpful to our neighbours, friends and family.  We must be specific about what we want to achieve –  thinking clearly about why and how. Our targets should be measurable e.g. knowing how much of something we consider to be successful. Targets should also be realistically achievable. Giving ourselves a time frame with clear deadlines for each task makes us less likely to falter and allows for regular self-evaluation.

Time and life is precious and fleeting, and we want to fill our lives with the tasks we are happy with. Prioritise effectively by evaluating each action from the moment we wake up, to the moment we sleep. We can divide our actions into the 3 following categories:

SHORT-TERM GOAL WITH SHORT-TERM GAIN

Examples include having hair coloured or preparing a beautiful healthy meal. The effects of these actions last a short amount of time but they may be very important to us, so that we can live our daily lives feeling confident and staying well. Having these kinds of short-term goals is fine, and in fact — depending on our intentions — they can contribute to our larger long-term goals.

SHORT-TERM GOAL WITH LONG-TERM GAIN

An example of this may be attending school, college or a course. Although this may be a relatively short-term goal, it contributes to our goals in our larger scheme. Offering Tahajjud, Dhuha, daily Adhkar, giving charity and ensuring we excel in learning, worship, reading more and pleasing Allah are all examples of this.

LONG-TERM GOAL WITH LONG-TERM GAIN

This is where many people stumble and don’t have a fixed direction. Unless we know the reason why we are doing something and we are content with that reason fitting into our bigger picture – we stumble – struggle – and wander emotionally lost and confused – at the first sign of hardship. Living for temporary instant gratification is not only illogical and unproductive, but it also distracts us from our true end goal of Paradise —which needs constant daily effort and strategic striving. For a Muslim the answers are crystal clear in terms of their long-term vision of achieving Paradise; and—with Paradise in focus—all the other matters rest beautifully within that context. When we get lazy in our worship and regarding our true purpose in life, then we find ourselves off track…

Goal Focus Plan

Seeing life in perspective and within the wider context, is crucial to being content and satisfied with our lives; this helps in making the right choices and laying our individual foundations for success and stops us from getting overly attached to the many temptations and desires in life.

By recognizing every action – pondering on why it is being done – establishing and purifying the intention – we can plan according to our grand scheme of direction in life. We can then decide if we would like to continue, modify or discontinue with every action.

True success spanning from this life to the next comes only by the mercy and will of Allah, and to Him is our return.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us all true satisfaction, barakah, prosperity and eternal success.

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Strength or Weakness: What is Our Destiny?

 

“Some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much)” (Al-Hajj, 22:5)

This verse struck me. Because I couldn’t understand this aspect about older people, and the decline in mental strength and emotional capability as they age. I assumed that surely through life experience and years aged, a person would be mentally stronger and emotionally more secure. In reality of course – this is not always the case. The rise in age related diseases and memory decline, as well as other nervous system disorders ( directly linked to age) is testament to this.

Allah has told us clearly; some will not know anything after having known much.

The whole verse reads: “Surely we created you from dust, then from a small seed, then from a clot, then from a lump of flush, complete in make and incomplete, that we may make clear to you; and we cause what we please to stay in the wombs till an appointed time, then we bring you forth as babies, then that you may attain your maturity; and of you is he who is caused to die, and of you is he who is brought back to the worst part of life, so that after having knowledge he doesn’t know anything” (Al- Hajj 22: 5)

 This describes beautifully the life cycle of a human being and its various stages. We were all created weak.  We’re all vulnerable whilst young. Most of us are allowed to gain maturity. We develop intellect and strength. Some amongst us die, and are taken from this life whilst they are strong and healthy. Others return back to weakness and a decrease in knowledge and ability – almost as though they are reversing – and going back in terms of ability, vulnerability and intellect.

This is a huge test for us. Being old and weak can clearly be extremely difficult. Any of us can find ourselves in this position – as Allah highlighted in this verse. Just imagine how bad this time period must actually be… Allah has used such powerful wording here, which is translated as the “feeblest” or the “worst part of life” by translators.

How would a person feel in that position?

Many people in their prime years are strong, active, healthy and independent. Then as they age they get weaker, less mobile, suffer debilitating health issues and become dependent on others.

This could have detrimental effects. It could alter their emotional stability and self esteem. It could decrease their confidence levels and ability to rationalise. Perhaps this is why we are greatly rewarded for looking after, caring for and showing respect to our parents and elders. None of us are immune from this life cycle. If Allah wills it could happen to us when we are older — no matter how strong or intelligent we may be today. We must fear Allah and be humble; taking care not to judge others. We must remove our complacency of sound intellect — because, the one who gave us our ability can just as easily take it away —  if he wills. We must show gratitude and be thankful…

Making effort to be kind, obey and respect our parents is an Islamic obligation.

It may well be you tomorrow in that same scenario… Reflect. Treat the elderly as we would want to be treated.

This is an example of how just one verse of the Quran can drastically improve our homes – relationships and lives –  if we understand it and abide by Allah’s commands.

Without looking into the depth of the Quran, and reflecting on what we read, many of us remain deprived of the profound wisdoms behind every verse. Allah is the wisest and knows best in every regard. On an individual level, family level or societal level this obligation brings benefits and adhesion between us.

I seek refuge in Allah and supplicate to him to keep all our minds, hearts and bodies intact until we meet him on the Day He resurrects us, and calls us to account. Ameen.

TEST AFTER TEST…

Never give up. Never lose hope. Always have faith, it allows you to cope. Trying times will pass as they always do. Pray to Allah and just have patience, your dreams will come true. Insha'Allah. So put on a smile. You’ll live through your pain. Know it will pass and strength you will gain.

Some of us can fall deeply or occasionally get sucked in to negative, stressful, depressive feelings and thoughts  when facing difficulties. But, how can we overcome this?

 LIFE IS MERELY A SERIES OF TEMPORARY TESTS

The Quran clearly states:

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested?” (Quran, 29:2)

“We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits of your toil.” (Quran, 2:155)

Life is temporary and is full of different tests for each individual; we are all in a series of tests, whether we consider ourselves liberated or trapped — whether we consider ourselves to be career or family orientated — or whether we wish to be politically correct and say that both are equally achievable simultaneously.

We don’t know what other people may be suffering with, so, we shouldn’t judge others, or assume that they are in 100% bliss, all day and every day. Everyone has had their own set of challenges embroiled on them. The testing, daily striving, struggling and challenges will always be there for all those who entered this life, until they cease to be in his life — whether we accept this or not.

This may feel like a sticking point or mental block that is difficult to digest or overcome. But, it’s an easy concept to grasp and remember. In life we know that we will continue to be tested every day and although we make so many choices, none of us have any proper control in the circumstances we will find ourselves in when we wake up, or even whether we will wake up or not. Yet we do make our own choices every day and try to feed our sense of control.

We may spend so long trying to work out what it was that would’ve made us happy if we could go back in time and choose all over again. No matter what we choose though, the outcome may not have necessarily been any better.

People looking in at our life may think that it is the most enviable life. Yet internally, we toil over the problems we want to eradicate and want to change, in order to eliminate the emptiness and sadness we feel; but, thinking and analysing too much can often create bigger problems than the ones we are trying to solve.

Some of us may conclude that we don’t want to change anything, but, the satisfaction and happiness is still missing. Some days may be worse than others, and the thought of having to rely on medications, if we let this negativity and stress linger  — may be petrifying. Turning to our faith as a stronghold can give us the strength to continue.

Life is temporary. Allah is the most powerful and can control every heart and mind. Our one true lord, Allah, who created us, and controls the entire universe is the only true source of comfort and peace. He is the only one who deserves to be worshipped and obeyed. He knows of every minute detail and worry in our lives.

Reflecting on the essence of our faith, and establishing a strong connection to it can transform our hearts and lives. This takes sincere effort; this effort is easy when we believe. We can only believe fully when we know; so, learning more about Allah and his commands is an essential prerequisite for the ability to believe. Through seeking that knowledge our hearts and minds get stronger.

He (SWT) can change everything; He just has to say ‘Be,’ and it is. There is light at the end of every tunnel and Allah can restore our happiness in a split second, if He wills.

“Whoever disbelieves in Taghut (false worship) and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (Quran, 2:256)

This belief and trust in Allah is a great source of strength, but, it can only come through increasing our Imaan by increasing our knowledge and good deeds.

To read more on this click here .https://clearpearls.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/step-by-step-plan-for-combatting-emptiness-stress-and-depression-final-part/..

 

For those that find praying too hard…

The Qur’an describes this exact situation…

“And seek help in patience and As-Salât (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khâshi’ûn [i.e. the true believers in Allâh – those who obey Allâh with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise,) and in His Warnings (Hell, )].” (Al-Baqarah, 2: 45)

Why don’t people pray?
Why do they find it difficult to fast?
Why do some of us do these things, but we do it as a chore?

The Quran tells us why, with accuracy and simplicity; they can’t because they find it too hard. Unless a person’s belief is firm and sound — it is difficult to pray.

Who are the Al-Khashi’un being mentioned in the above verse?

These are the true believers, in Allah: the one true God. They obey him with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise  of Paradise, and in His warnings of Hell.

So, without doing all these things first, it is difficult to pray, fast, give zakah or do hajj.

How can we increase our submission and beliefs? The cure is simple: to increase the belief.  But, this requires sincere intentions.

How? Knowledge! Yes, it’s that simple.
Knowledge provides the reassurance and answers to strengthen our belief – If we seek it with a pure heart and intention. Only someone who is willing to search for, and strive for the truth can benefit from it.

There are many benefits for those who obey their lord; but the sincerity has to be there to obey him in the first place.

The five daily Prayers teach us many lessons in life including time management, self-discipline, harmony and unity. In fact, it could be argued that each verse and method of worship passed on to us by the final Messenger (SAW) of Allah (SWT) benefits and improves our daily lives, our characters, and leads us to a more wholesome meaningful life. Writing things down is one of the best ways of remembering and teaching ourselves and others, and we can see that this way was chosen to preserve the Qur’an as a book. Its recitation, repetition and propagation is encouraged to increase our understanding and encourage the acquisition of knowledge and truth. This effort of seeking nearness to the Qur’an leads to remembering to stay on the prescribed path.

Giving Zakah (obligatory charity) and Sadaqah (voluntary charity) purifies our wealth. It also purifies our hearts from many evils, temptations, desires and attachment to this life. The act of giving charity benefits the one giving it as well as the recipient.

Fasting cleanses and benefits our body and soul. It teaches us the ability to control our desires, and doing this purely for the sake of Allah teaches us the importance of sincere intention in all our actions.

The Hajj pilgrimage teaches us invaluable skills including self-discipline, humility, unity, patience, courage and the importance of planning and preparation. Planning and preparation are key to performing a successful Hajj, and both these skills are key to general success in many aspects of daily life. Planning and organising our time and thinking about what we want and how we will achieve it can provide us with much needed reassurance.

Approaching life in a wider context, with a pure heart and with an open mind can unravel our confusions and unearth more emotional strength and fuel to help us achieve goals. It can help put our minds at rest knowing that there is a greater purpose that we are working towards.

Focussing and visualising our end goal is the first step to achieving it.
What is the end goal we have to visualise? Paradise, what else?
Paradise is worth striving for!

This life is temporary and human beings are not immortal. Living for temporary instant gratification is not only illogical and unproductive, but it also distracts us from our true end goal of Paradise—which needs daily effort and striving.

We know from the Quran that this life is a test:

“Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, “We believe” and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false” (Al-Ankabut, 29:2-3).

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to Al-Sâbirun (the patient)” (Al-Baqarah 2:155).

When we get lazy in our worship and regarding our true purpose in life, then we find ourselves off track.
Prioritising everything in terms of the wider context stops us from getting overly attached to the numerous temptations and desires of this wordly life.

Allah reminds us — to remind ourselves:

“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers. And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me”

    (Al-Dhariyat, 51:55-56).

Our lord warned us,“Satan makes them promises, and creates in them false desires; but Satan’s promises are nothing but deception.” (4:120)

We are responsible and accountable for our actions, and remembering that each action is being watched by our creator and recorded by his angels can help motivate us, so that our own actions don’t become our own worst enemy and testify against us on the Day of Judgement.

Seeing life in perspective is crucial to being content and satisfied with our lives; this helps in making the right choices and fighting off our inhibitions, desires and heedlessness.