Ismail Kamdar

Ismail Kamdar is the Founder of Islamic Self Help, author of over a dozen books, faculty manager of IOU, and a freelance writer.
Ismail Kamdar is the Founder of Islamic Self Help, author of over a dozen books, faculty manager of IOU, and a freelance writer.

Public Speaking – 5 Terrible Pieces of Advice

Public Speaking: Bad Advice

Public speaking is an art, and as with any art, it requires practice and training. Even if you are naturally good at public speaking, you still need training and advice in order to reach your full potential.

I remember when I delivered my first Islamic lecture at the age of 16. I was shaking and nervous and reading from a page. Yet people praised it and told me I was a naturally good speaker. That was a huge relief for me back then, but looking back my speech wasn’t good at all. It was just good for a 16 year old without any experience. ūüôā

Over the years, I have studied public speaking, taken advice from family and students, and tried to improve with each passing year. Some of the advice I received was really important (speak slower, lose the accent), but there is also a lot of bad advice out there which just doesn’t make any sense.

This article is about the latter. If someone gives you any of the following advice regarding public speaking, DO NOT listen to them. You will only make a fool of yourself. Here are five terrible pieces of public speaking advice:

1. Just Wing It

‘Just wing it’ means to do something without preparation. When I was in my early twenties, a friend told me, “You are such a naturally good speaker, you don’t need to prepare. Just go out there and speak from the heart!” It sounds really nice and sincere and inspirational. Who doesn’t like a speech from the heart, right?

Well it doesn’t matter if it is from the heart, if it is unprepared and lacking any point. Have you ever noticed a passionate Khutbahs full of sincere advice which the Imam screams at you, yet at the end you couldn’t remember what it was about?

The Imam may have started with a reminder about bidah, which transformed into a lecture about Hijab, and ended with a story about his trip to Makkah and how much he hates the new shopping malls. (Even though he loves shopping there)

This is the result of just winging it. The Imam may sincerely be passionate about all these topics, but because it lacks preparation, it also lacks any flow or central point. The result is a rambling of topics about which the audience remembers none. Never wing it, always prepare before hand and make sure you have a core point to focus on.

 2. Make it funnier

This advice is subjective. If a lecture is really dry and boring, one well timed joke may be all that is needed to grab people’s attention. But then there is too much humor in a lecture.

You know that moment when you are not sure whether you are listening to an inspirational lecture about the Afterlife or watching a stand up comedy about the life of a Shaykh? Yeah, that’s when you know you strayed too far into funny territory and lost the point.¬†Public Speaking meme 1

The problem isn’t just too much humor, but also the type of humor. The problem here is that humor is subjective and very often the speaker has poor taste in humor which is often exposed during these funny speeches. When a speaker is told that he needs to make the lecture funnier, and the only jokes he knows are either sexist or racist, you know things are about to end¬†very badly. (followed by social media outrage and trending hashtags)

Do yourself a favor, and keep the humor natural. If you are naturally funny, the humor flows into the lecture without taking away from your key point. If the humor doesn’t feel¬†forced or offensive, then it will work. If not, just stay away from the jokes, rather than risk alienating or offending a segment of your audience.

3. Just Imitate a famous speaker

So you may be familiar with this scenario: There is a famous speaker who is really powerful and inspirational. Along comes his student, dressing like his teacher, using the same mannerisms and hand movements, and delivering the exact same speech, and suddenly you are feeling very sleepy.

What happened???Public Speaking Meme 1

What happened is that the original lecturer was being himself, so the lecture was organic, sincere, and powerful. His discipline/fanboy/clone, on the other hand, wanted to be just like his hero and as a result was not himself, and came across as robotic and fake.

If someone advises you to copy a famous speaker, don’t do it. The key is not to speak just like so-and-so, but rather to be yourself, be sincere, and speak about something you are passionate about. Being a copycat is selling yourself short, just avoid it please.

4. You need to dramatize everything

There are two extremes here.

Exhibit A: An Imam slouching, reading from a paper, monotone voice, never moving his hands at all. He really needs to do something different and be more passionate for sure.

Exhibit B: True story, when I was a kid, I attended a Khutbah which I will never forget. I have no clue what the Imam was speaking about, all I know is that he took this dramatizing thing too far. The Imam was talking about a story about a man who was lost in the desert and found some water to drink.

When talking about the man¬†being lost, the Imam began to imitate a crawl. When speaking about him drinking water, the Imam stood on top of the mimbar and pretended to drink water as dramatically as possible (complete with making slurping sounds). Then to cap it off, the Imam screamed “And then the Saint was full,” and while saying that, he stuck out is huge stomach and started patting it loudly.

As a kid, that lecture stuck in my mind for all the wrong reasons. So folks, before you go ahead and make a fool of yourself, understand that this is public speaking, NOT public acting. Avoid embarrassment and keep it professional…please!

5. Imagine your audience naked

Whoever came up with this advice needs a slap! Is there any sillier advice that has ever been given to public speakers? The common scenario is that someone is shy or afraid to speak in public, so some wise guy advises them to imagine the audience without clothes and that should calm them down.

Not only does this advice not work, (no, I didn’t try it myself) but for a Muslim, it is very very wrong! If the audience is the opposite gender, following this advice is very very Haraam! Even if they are the same gender, following this advice is beyond weird and creepy. If I’m ever in the audience for anybody’s public speech, I do not want that person, under any circumstances, picturing me without my clothes, no matter how nervous the speaker is!

Besides…the way some people dress these days, you actually need to lower your gaze and imagine your audience dressed appropriately!

That’s it for the bad advice on public speaking. Join our Public Speaking Course to learn the 8 steps of effective Public Speaking, exclusive to¬†Islamic Self Help.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Public Speaking, 14 comments
Important note about my e-books

Important note about my e-books

Important note about my e-books:

In 2015, I published two books through a publisher, and they were both available via all major e-books outlets (Kindle, Nook, iTunes) and in paperback via Amazon.
In December, due to disputes with the publisher over finances, I cancelled my contracts with them. i.e. they have yet to pay me any of my royalties for the books. This has been a huge financial blow for me.
Due to this, my e-books are now available exclusively via my websites and my PayHip account ( as PDFs. This includes Getting The Barakah, Best Of Creation, Homeschooling 101, and Themes of the Qur’an.
I do not plan to publish them via an international publisher any time soon. So if you wish to purchase any of my e-books, please purchase them directly from my websites or the above link.
Also make dua that I get what is rightfully owed to me by my ex-publisher. Jazakallah Khair
Note:¬†This doesn’t apply to region specific publishers like my publisher in Bangladesh who are reputable and will continue to publish my e-books there.
Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, Business, 0 comments

3 Productivity Tips you can implement right now

Productivity Tips

Sometimes all you need is one small adjustment to your daily life. Such a change could suddenly free up lots of time you didn’t know you had. These three productivity tips will help you make such immediate changes:

#1 Minimize Social Media Time

Social media can be the biggest time waster for many of us. I’m not telling you get off it. After all, you probably found this blog through social media. Just to cut it down a bit. Instead of being online all day, try switching off during high concentration tasks.

Whats a high concentration task?

Its any task that requires your full attention. Multi-tasking between completing such a task and using social media can double the amount of time it takes to complete it.

For example, if you are reading an article while checking social media, it might take 15 minutes to read the article.

If you close your social media for five minutes, you could complete reading the entire article in five minutes and understand it better.

Try it. Next time you need to concentrate, just switch off from social media for a few minutes. It works like magic.

#2 Cut out the chit chat

Whether it is a co-worker, an old friend, or your spouse calling from home. Learn to minimize conversations without being rude. Simply inform people of how much time you have to spare.

They will understand and keep the conversation within that time limit. If needed, remind them politely that you have work to do. Do this often and people will begin to understand.

By limiting conversations, you will discover hours of extra time during the day to get things done.

#3 Make a To-Do List

To-Do Lists do not require any formal training. Just write out a list of everything you need to do today, and do it all one by one. Its as simple as that.

To-Do Lists are the core of time management. Without one, it is very difficult to keep track of whether you are being productive or just busy doing nothing. Make a To-Do list right now and see for yourself.

You can learn a lot more about Time Management by reading my e-book
Getting The Barakah

Buy Now

Available exclusively through Islamic Self Help

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Productivity, Time Management, 0 comments

5 Hadith on Positive Thinking

The Islamic Hadith narrations emphasize positive thinking. Even though many Muslims today choose to think negatively about the world and its inhabitants, Islam actually encourages the opposite. Reflect on these five Hadiths and begin your journey of positive change now:

Hadith #1: Think Win/Win

Amazing is the affair of the believer. Definitely, all of his life is good and this is not for anybody except the believer. If something of good happens to him, he is grateful and that is good for him. If something harmful befalls him, he is patient and that is good for him. (Saheeh Muslim #2999)

This Hadith teaches us to approach all of life positively. The good times are opportunities for gratitude, and the difficult times are tests of patience. Both situations are good for us, so no matter what happens in our lives, there is always a way to benefit from it.

Hadith #2: Think Positive About Allah

I am as My servant thinks of Me. I am with him when he remembers Me. If he mentions Me within himself, I mention him within Myself. If he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in a better assembly. If he comes near to Me a handspan, I come near to him the distance of a cubit. If he comes near to Me the distance of a cubit, I come near to him the distance of two outspread arms. If he comes to Me walking, I come to him running. (Sahih Al-Bukhari #6856 and Sahih Muslim #4832)

In this important Hadith Al-Qudsi, Allah Himself informs us of the importance of positive thinking about Him. We must maintain good thoughts about our Creator and not allow the devil to place evil thoughts in our minds. The more positively we think about Allah, the more benefits we will gain from this in this world and the next.

Hadith #3: Avoid negative thoughts

Beware of suspicion, as suspicion is the falsest talk, and do not spy upon each other, and do not listen to the evil talk of the people about others’ affairs, and do not have enmity with one another, but be brothers. And none should ask for the hand of a girl who is already engaged to his (Muslim) brother, but one should wait till the first suitor marries her or leaves her. (Saheeh Bukhari #5970)

Negative thinking about our fellow Muslims is a root cause of enmity, jealousy, and disunity. This Hadith prohibits all causes of negative thinking, whether it be unfounded suspicion, backbiting, or spying. All these sins must be avoided.

Hadith #4: Make things easy

“Make things easy for the people and do not make things difficult for them.” (Saheeh Bukhari #6125)

This simple short advice was aimed primarily at those doing Dawah and teaching Islam. The principle forms one of the primary foundations of Shariah Law i.e. the principle of ease. There are multiple narrations that emphasize this same point. Islam was meant to make life easier for people. Make sure the way you call and guide people to Islam emphasizes the positives and attracts people towards the beauty of Islam.

Hadith #5: Positive Thinking at time of death

Whoever loves the meeting with Allah, Allah too, loves the meeting with him; and whoever hates the meeting with Allah, Allah too, hates the meeting with him. (Saheeh Bukhari #6508)

Positive thinking is so important in Islam, that¬†it is emphasized at the time of death. Muslims should not only think good about their Creator, they should think best of Him. This is especially important at the time of death, that believers be encouraged to focus on Allah’s Mercy and Forgiveness. In doing so, they leave this world in a positive state of mind. Not only should we live positive lives, but we should die in a positive state of mind too.

May Allah protect us all from negative thoughts.

Read our ebook on Self-Confidence for more details on Tawheed-Based Personal Development.

Hadith on Positive Thinking

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Positive Thinking, 4 comments

25 ways to express your gratitude everyday

And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you are ungrateful, indeed, My punishment is severe.(Surah Ibraheem 14:7)

  1. Smile
  2. Pray five times a day
  3. Say Alhamdulillah (All praise is for Allah)
  4. Say Mashaa Allah (This is what Allah willed)
  5. Say Jazakallah Khair (may Allah reward you with better)
  6. Thank people for every little thing
  7. Make Sajdah Shukr (prostration of gratitude)
  8. Make a list of things you are grateful for
  9. Hug your family members
  10. Give someone a gift
  11. Gratitude1Acknowledge someone’s efforts to help you
  12. Be kind to strangers
  13. Give some charity
  14. Help an elder
  15. Check on your neighbors
  16. Accept your tests as blessings that you don’t understand
  17. Help someone with a difficult task
  18. Make dua (supplicate) for others
  19. Let people know how much they mean to you
  20. Work with Ihsaan (striving for excellence)
  21. Overlook people’s flaws
  22. Notice the small good things in life
  23. Support a friend’s business (you can support mine by purchasing an e-book)
  24. Keep the company of positive people
  25. Pray Qiyam Al-Layl (the late night prayer)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
‚ÄúHe has not thanked Allah who has not thanked people.‚ÄĚ
(Abu Dawood, 4811)

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace, Positive Thinking, 6 comments