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.

The 5 Best Books I Read in 2015

Out of 40 books, I rank my five best books of 2015

In 2015, I set for myself a goal of reading 50 books in one year. Although, I did not meet my goal, I came pretty close by reading 40 books. Not every book proved to be a good book though, and I really struggled through some which were rather monotonous and repetitive.

Nonetheless, there were also many books I read last year which were amazing and life-changing. Choosing the Top Five was difficult, especially since I read across multiple subjects, but after much thought, I concluded on these five books.

For this list, I considered only books that I rated 4 or 5 Stars on GoodReads, and from those I chose the five that had the biggest impact on my life. So here are the five books that I enjoyed the most in 2015:

5.   The Unschooling Handbook – Mary Griffith

Best Book 5

Homeschooling is a very important part of my life and I am constantly looking for resources that can help me improve our homeschool environment. I have read multiple homeschooling books this past year, but The Unschooling Handbook stands out as the one that challenged my thoughts on education the most.

This book focuses on how children are capable of learning themselves, and rather than direct instruction, they just need access to resources in order to grow and learn. Although I didn’t switch over to unschooling completely, I have taken many ideas from this book and changed my homeschooling routine accordingly.

This book ranks lower than the others for two reasons. The first being that I did not embrace its ideas completely, and the second being that it was written two decades ago so some of its ideas and topics are a bit outdated.

4. Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo

Public speaking is another important part of my life, and I often wondered how the speakers at TED conferences were able to captivate audiences the way TalkLikeTEDthey do. This book did not disappoint as it analyzed the most influential TED talks for nine of the most essential tips for public speaking.

Each of these nine tips are crucial for effective public speaking and this book has reinforced the concepts I was already using, while introducing me to many new ones. It ranks among my Top Four for teaching me crucial tips like the 18 minute rule and the art of story telling. Definitely, a must read for public speakers.




3. How we differ (Arabic) – Shaykh Salman Al-Oudah

KayfaI chose just one Arabic book for this list, as most of my readers are English-speaking and my Arabic reading list for 2015 was quite small. Shaykh Salman Al-Oudah is someone I hold in very high esteem, and his books and lectures have had a great influence on my understanding of Islam and methodology of Dawah.

‘How We Differ’ was one such book which focused on topics like why differences of opinion exist among Muslims, acceptable and unacceptable differences of opinion, the manners of dealing with differences, and the causes of difference of opinion. The topics are really interesting and cover questions that many young people ask today. I highly recommend this book for anybody seeking to understand the differences that exist among Muslims, especially in issues of Fiqh.


2. Muhammad – The Perfect Teacher by Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah

Choosing between number one and two was really difficult, as both of these books are so good in two different genres. Muhammad – The PerfectTeacherPerfect Teacher is a brilliant book for teachers focusing on Hadiths that narrate the teaching styles and methods of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The book is packed full of wisdom and I didn’t want it to end.

My only complaints are that the book was too short, and there are many more hadiths on this topic that could have been added. Also that some of the Hadiths are not explained, which makes it difficult to recommend to people who may misunderstand the Hadiths without the proper background and context. Nonetheless, this is an outstanding book, and is very well translated.



1. David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell

This was the one book in 2015 that I did not want to stop reading, and I hoped it would never end. It may seem controversial to some people that I ranked a book by a Non-Muslim author as my favorite book of the year, but this is David&Goliatha list of my favorite reads, not my favorite Islamic books, and I would be lying if I did not admit that this was the book I enjoyed reading the most in 2015.

I love Malcolm Gladwell’s books and find them a fascinating study of psychology, but this one really stood out as it is a compilation of stories that explain how, over and over again, the relatively weak defeat the mighty.

Its a cycle we all recognize but Malcolm explains very well why and how it happens, by showing the advantages in perceived disadvantages (and vice versa), how some problems actually benefit us and help us grow, and most importantly how power blinds the powerful to their own weaknesses, which leads to their undoing. For fans of psychology, I highly recommend this book.

With that, I conclude my list for my Top 5 books for 2015. Check back again later in the week for more reviews of 2015, as well as some of my goals for 2016.



Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, 8 comments

5 Ways to deal with your own mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes

Everybody makes mistakes

“Every son of Adam makes mistakes, and the best of those who make mistakes are those who repent.” (Tirmidhi)

Everybody makes mistakes. There is no way around it and no way to avoid it. No matter how hard you try to be perfect, you will eventually make mistakes. Your life is not determined by perfection, but by how you deal with your mistakes.

For many of us, our ways of dealing with mistakes lead us down wrong paths. Some people allow their mistakes to define them, to lead them into darkness, or at the very least to sap their confidence in their ability to be better. These are the wrong ways to deal with your mistakes. The next time you make a mistake, try doing the following instead:

1. Stay calm and avoid negative self-talk

You know the feeling. You just tried your best to do something good and it blew up in your face. All you can see in front of you is the mess you made in your attempt to be good.

You feel angry, you feel frustrated, you can feel the negative thoughts flowing in: “You are not good enough!” “How can you be so stupid!” “What is wrong with….NO! No negative thoughts for me!” Shun them, Push them aside and simply accept the reality, “I am a human and I made a mistake, that’s all there is to it,” Let the calmness of accepting your human nature take over, and don’t let those thoughts in.

2. Look for the lesson in your mistakes

Now that you are calm, its time to look at what went wrong. Yes, you made a mistake but mistakes are lessons and learning experiences, so treat it as one. Analyze your moves, thoughts, and emotions.

Ask yourself three questions: Where did I go wrong? What can I learn from it? And most importantly, what steps can I take to avoid making this mistake again in future? Writing down your answers will help you to think clearer and remember the lesson longer. Turn the situation into a life lesson that you will benefit from for life.

3. Stay focused on your goal and find another way to accomplish it

Don’t allow your mistake to sidetrack you from your goal. Before you made the mistake, you were focused on something important. Do you remember what it was? Good, now get back on track and find another way to accomplish that goal which doesn’t include this mistake.

4. Apologize if your mistake hurt someone else

If someone else was hurt in the process, don’t even think twice about apologizing and fixing it. Swallow your ego and fix it immediately. You know that you are a good person who was trying to do the right thing, so stay noble and apologize. Its the only way forward.

5. Repent if it was a sin

Finally, if your mistake was doing something that is displeasing to your Creator, then seek His Forgiveness, find a way to avoid doing it in future, and move on. He is Most-Forgiving, Most Merciful and accepts all sincere repentance.

If you do these five things, you can continue towards your noble goals, and eventually accomplish them, no matter how many times you slipped along the road.

Learn more about how to overcome your mistakes in my e-book:

Learn More

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Positive Thinking, Self Confidence, Stress Management, 1 comment
The rights of people in Islam

The rights of people in Islam

These are the rights of people in Islam

1. Rights of parents – never to disrespect them, abandon them, or treat them harshly. Always love them and maintain close relations with them.
2. Rights of children – to care for them, nurture them, teach them Islam and important worldly knowledge, and raise them to be righteous leaders who will contribute to making this world a better place
3. Rights of one’s spouse – to treat each other with love and mercy, and gently remind each other of what is right and guide each other towards the straight path
4. Rights of Relatives – to maintain family ties and be there for them when they need you
5. Rights of Neighbors – to make sure they are safe, and happy, and to never inconvenience them
6. Rights of Teachers – to respect them and express gratitude for everything they taught you
7. Rights of Students – to teach them correct knowledge, lead by example, and fulfill the trust placed upon you of teaching them
8. Rights of guests – to be treated with honor and given preference over oneself
9. Rights of the host – to not inconvenience a host by staying at their home for more than 3 days without necessity
10. Rights of Orphans – to treat them well and help them prosper in any way you can
11. Rights of employees – to pay them properly and on time, and never to overburden them with work
12. Rights of employers – to fulfill your contractual obligations and never to deceive them
13. Rights of friends – to gently guide them towards the straight path and help them in times of need
14. Rights of the poor – to share a percentage of your wealth with them, and help them rise up in life and escape poverty
15. Rights of people in general – to treat people with kindness, mercy, respect, good manners, and to help anybody in need
This is what Islam really teaches, and what practicing Muslims have been following for the past 1400 years!
Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace, Productivity, 0 comments

New Podcast Interview – Overcoming Procrastination

Overcoming Procrastination

Interview on overcoming procrastination

This is a link to a Muslim Life Hackers podcast about overcoming procrastination.

I was the guest on this episode, and we discussed many tips on overcoming procrastination, taken from my e-book Getting The Barakah.

“If you are afraid that it is going to take you 5 or 10 years to achieve a goal understand that those years are going to pass anyway and what will you show for it?” – Abu Muawiyah

Questions Asked:

  • Why should our listeners care about time management and in turn being productive?
  • Do you think that because time is not a tangible form of rizq we do not consider it as valuable?
  • So for those of us who have also grown up in the 80s and 90s and have this notion of killing time, overhauling their habbits and starting to think long term sounds very intimidating. Where do we start with that process?
  • How can someone tell if a decision is potentially harmful for them in the future or just an easy short cut? What is the difference?
  • In your book you talk about how not all hours of the day have the same value. How can we use this to our advantage to get more done?
  • The 7 day planner or the To-Do list? Can you explain these two systems and how they suit different lifestyles?
  • What would you say to someone who says they are a procrastinator?
  • Is having managed our time having a full calendar and always being busy? Where does relaxation and fun fit into the equation?

Getting The Barakah – Time Management E-Book

Be sure to check out our Time Management e-book, which contains over 150 pages of tips and techniques, and is available for purchase for only $8.99. That’s 150 pages of Time Management Training for under $10!

Time Management Training

Time Management E-Book

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, Productivity, Time Management, 3 comments
Is homeschooling right for me?

Is homeschooling right for me?

This is an extract from latest e-book Homeschooling 101

This is a valid question. I do not propose that the entire world switches to homeschooling in one go. That would be impractical for most and not possible for some. Every human has their own struggles, limits, goals, and opportunities.

I am not here to tell you that homeschooling is definitely for you, or that it is not. I will simply tell you what it is, what it is about, how to do it, and then you can decide for yourself if it fits your vision for your family.

That’s really what it comes down to. In order to know whether homeschooling is for you or not, you need to first ask what is your vision for your children.

It may be something you never thought about. Many of us are so caught up in just following the norm that we don’t think about things life visions and goals. We just have kids, send them to school at age five, off to college once done with that, then work a job until you are too old to work any longer. We take it for granted that this is the only way to live our lives.

But there are many other ways to live, other ways to learn, and other ways to earn. And as the world changes and technology continues to morph the way we earn and learn, the opportunities that your children will have may include things that do not exist yet. Are we preparing them for that reality, or are we still stuck in the twentieth century model of life?

To make it easier, let me explain my vision: I want to raise children who are righteous leaders, people of strong moral character, people with the skills and ability to adapt to an ever changing world and find ways to earn well no matter how drastically the economics of the world shift.

I want to raise my children to be adults in a world that doesn’t exist yet, to be able to deal with technology that doesn’t exist yet, to work at tasks that may not exist yet, and to maintain their religiosity and moral character no matter which direction the world moves in.

The current school system is not adequate in preparing them for this. It is stuck in a twentieth century model that holds back potential, trains blind followers, and prepares people to spend the rest of their lives working for others. I want more for my children and so I decided to homeschool them, even though it comes with many challenges.

That is my vision as a parent. Yours might be similar, or completely different. Whatever it is, it will determine whether homeschooling is right for your family or not.

There are other factors to consider as well. Homeschooling may be more difficult (but not impossible) for single parents, families were both parents work long hours, and families were neither parent feels confident in their ability to teach.

Homeschooling may also be impossible if you live in a country were homeschooling is illegal. Although there may still be ways to do it within the system if you research it thoroughly. These are all things to consider before making a decision.

In each of these cases, homeschooling is still possible if you are open to the idea of doing things very differently from regular schools. There are homeschooling parents who teach their children at night, some who take their children to work with them, and others who have delegated the task to a relative who wants to help.

My point is that you should not allow your circumstances to determine whether you homeschool or not. Make the decision based on your goals and vision. If someone feels strong enough about their goals, that person will find a way to achieve it and make things work.

If homeschooling is not legal in your country, look for other alternatives. There are some loopholes in the system that would allow you to homeschool. For example, some countries may allow you to keep your child at home if they are registered with a correspondence school and assessed over there. In such a case, you can still homeschool without breaking the law.

Speak to local homeschoolers and find out how they get around it and what works best, the solutions are often simpler and more practical than you initially thought.

Make the decision based primarily on your goals as a parent. If time is a factor, there are ways to make time creatively and fit it in.[1] If you are not confident in your own teaching skills, or access to resources, then take a course in homeschooling or read some books on the topic (like this one) and you will realize it isn’t as daunting as it sounds.

Whatever your excuse, there are ways around it if you have a clear purpose and reason for choosing to homeschool. Where there is a passionate goal, there is always a way. So focus on your goals and that will ultimately help you decide whether homeschooling is right for you or not.

Do you want to read more?
Click the link below to purchase the full e-book!

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, Homeschooling, 2 comments