Positive Thinking

7 Islamic Concepts that make the trials of life bearable

7 Islamic Concepts that make the trials of life bearable

Life is hard. There is no doubt about. God put us on this earth to test us. Sometimes we are tested with ease, to test our gratitude. Sometimes we are tested with temptation to show our resolve. And sometimes we are tested with difficulties to reveal our patience. Life goes through various ups and downs, most of the time being a combination of various tests.

Knowing this, we must thank our Creator for revealing Islam and guiding us to follow. Because it is only Islam that has so many built-in coping mechanisms that make the trials of life bearable. This doesn’t mean that every person can easily handle life by just following Islam. But following Islam definitely makes it easier to cope with the trials of life. Here are some of the ways Islam equips us to handle the ups and downs of life.

Belief in Qadr (Destiny)

Belief in Qadr (destiny) is one of the six primary beliefs in Islam. Every Muslim must believe that God knows everything and that nothing can happen without the will of God. While this belief may pose an ideological dilemma for philosophers who dwell too deep into the hows and whys, it provides comfort and relief to the minds of the average believer.

Knowing that everything that happens to us is part of God’s plan and will provides comfort to those who trust God and His Infinite Wisdom. The Quran is full of stories of people who went through difficult trials ending in great achievements, the story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) being the clearest example of this. Stories like this remind us that the trials of life are part of a bigger picture that we may only understand later in life, or maybe even only in the Afterlife.

Tawakul (Trusting God)

Linked to belief in Qadr is the internal act of worship called Tawakul (Trust). Tawakul means to entrust one’s affairs and result to Allah and to be content with His Will. Tawakul is often mistaken for Fatalism; a lazy reliance on God without any effort. This is not the Islamic understanding of Tawakul. Tawakul means to put in one’s best effort, then to be content with the result.

Tawakul helps Muslims cope with many of the ups-and-downs of life, especially regarding finances. When a Muslim experiences a slow period of sales or loses a source of income, Tawakul drives them to be optimistic and to seek out a new, perhaps better, opportunity. The believer is pushed forward by God’s promise, “Whoever puts his trust in God, He will suffice him. Indeed, God will accomplish his goals.” (Quran 65:3)

Sabr (Patience and Resiliency)

We have written many articles about Sabr in the past and included entire sections on it in some of our books. The Quran instructs believers to seek God’s assistance through Sabr and Salah. (Quran 2:153) Sabr is an active state of resiliency, persistence, restraint, and forbearance. It is necessary for accomplishing goals, overcoming temptations and dealing with setbacks of life.

The believer is always in a state of Sabr. He is either persisting in good deeds, restraining himself from sin, or bearing the challenges of life with patience. Sabr makes every stage of life more bearable, and has helped people get through some of the most traumatic events. Without the concept of Sabr, life would be very difficult to bear.

Salah (The Formal Prayer)

Linked with Sabr in multiple verses is Salah. God instructs us to seek His Assistance through Sabr and Salah. Salah connects the heart to the believer, allowing one to find comfort in the company of God, pouring one’s heart out to Him, and seek His assistance in every way. Salah is the ultimate act of submission that shows a person worships God alone, and asks God alone for assistance during difficult times.

Dua (Private Supplication)

Linked to Salah is dua. One of the ways we are supposed to seek assistance through Salah is by pouring our heart out to God in the prostration (Sajdah). Dua is the essence of worship and one of the most important things that a believer can do during times of difficulty. The narrations state that only dua can override destiny. (Ibn Majah 90) So when one’s destiny seems dark, the believer finds comfort in Salah and dua.

The Muslim Community (Ummah)

It is true that the Muslim community is often the source of our trials in life. Sometimes Muslims can be their own worst enemies. Pettiness, jealousy, extremism, and sectarianism all form part of the tests of life. But if so many of the trials of life come from society, why then do I list the concept of an ummah as a source of ease?

Because despite all of its faults, the Muslim community remains a source of blessings for its members. When a believer falls into major calamity, quickly you will find other members of the community rushing to crowdfund and assist them. This level of care for others across the globe is truly a blessing from God. Knowing that we are part of an ummah that has our back in the worst of times makes life more bearable, regardless of our faults as a community.

The Akhirah (Afterlife)

Belief in the Afterlife is also one of the six fundamental beliefs of Islam. Islam teaches us that this life is temporary and that eventually our souls will leave these bodies and return to God. We will then be judged for how we lived our lives, and either earn eternal damnation, eternal bliss, or temporary punishment followed by eternal bliss. So how does this belief make life bearable?

There are two ways that belief in the Afterlife makes life bearable. The first is by knowing that this life is temporary and that a life of eternal bliss potentially awaits us beyond. This brings comfort to the hearts of those whose trials last a lifetime. They know that eventually the trial will end and they will be rewarded eternally for their Sabr.

The second way is through the concept of God’s Perfect Justice. Life in this world can be unfair, and often tyrants get away with great evil. The believer find comfort in knowing that Justice will be served on the Last Day, and that nobody gets away with tyranny. For anyone who has been harmed in this world, and seen the perpetrator walk free, knowing that he will be brought to justice on the Last Day makes the test a bit more bearable.

Conclusion

These seven concepts all play a role in helping us cope with and overcome the challenges of life. It is true that they won’t work one hundred percent of the time for everybody. Some people require counseling, others require justice in this world to move on. There are many dynamics at play.

But there is great benefit in believing in Qadr and the Afterlife while practicing Tawakul, Sabr, Salah, and Dua while sticking the Muslim community. All of this makes life more bearable and helps the believer focus on what matters most; worshiping God and earning one’s place in the eternal garden.

For more beneficial articles like this, check out our latest publication; a compilation of our 30 best articles available here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Positive Thinking, 4 comments
The Abundance Mentality: An Islamic Perspective

The Abundance Mentality: An Islamic Perspective

The abundance mentality is the philosophy that there is enough in this world for everybody, and that we can all prosper together. It is the opposite of the scarcity mentality which pervades capitalistic societies. The scarcity mentality is the belief that there are limited resources in the world, and there isn’t enough for everybody.

The Abundance Mentality Defined

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains clearly the difference between the scarcity mentality and the abundance mentality. He describes the Scarcity Mentality as follows:

Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit—even with those who help in the production. They also have a hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.

Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 219

He describes the Abundance mentality as follows:

The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth or security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in the sharing of prestige, recognition, profits, and decision-making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.

Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, pp. 219-220

Stephen Covey explained the harms of the scarcity mentality as follows:

People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit…They also have a hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people. Even, and sometimes, especially, members of their own family or close friends and associates. It’s almost as if something is being taken from them when someone else receives special recognition…

Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 219

God’s Limitless Treasures

The abundance mentality for Muslims is an even deeper issue, it is a matter of theology. Muslims believe that God created the entire universe, provides for all His creation, and that God’s treasures are limitless. Based on these beliefs, a scarcity mentality can lead to defects in one’s understanding of God and His infinite treasures.

The scarcity mentality is based on false notions about this world and God. These false notions lead to a problematic understanding of resources and how they are divided. In reality, there is enough food, wealth, and everything else for all of humanity to live comfortably. Unfortunately, this wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few elite capitalist leaders.

Yet, if it were distributed fairly, world poverty would not exist. This balance and fair distribution actually occurred in ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz’s kingdom during his reign. ʿUmar’s economic reforms, as well as his emphasis on the collection and fair distribution of the Zakat, led to a strong economy. The economy grew so strong under ʿUmar II that there reached a point in which people had difficulty locating eligible Zakat recipients.

In a truly Islamic environment, it is common to find most people engaging in acts of charity well above the minimum. They do so regardless of their economic status and without fear of poverty. This is because Islam cements the abundance mentality into the minds of its believers.

Islam teaches us that God’s treasures are limitless, and even if every creature asked God for whatever they wanted and He gave it to them, it would not decrease His treasures in the least.

Muslims also believe that charity increases wealth and causes Baraka (spiritual blessings) in one’s wealth. With such deep-rooted spiritual beliefs, it is clear why Muslims who understand their religion are often among the most charitable people in the world, without any anxiety about poverty.

Tapping into the Abundance Mindset

The abundance mindset is easily espoused when a person has the correct understanding of God and His Attributes. One of Allah’s Beautiful Names is al-Ghani which translates as “The Independent” or “The Richest” or “The One whose treasures are limitless”.

Based on this belief, Muslims have a firm conviction that there are enough resources on earth for everybody, and the apparent shortage or deficiency is simply a matter of flawed access and distribution. This is why a Muslim trader would not feel threatened if someone purchased an item from a neighboring store. He simply sees it as that person receiving his share of sustenance from God whose own treasures are limitless.

In Islamic theology, the scarcity mindset is considered one of the tricks of the devil. God states in the Quran, “Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and abundance. And Allah is All-Encompassing and All-Knowing.” (Quran 2:268)

In the above verse, the scarcity mentality is listed as a trick of the devil that leads to immorality–much like how Umar’s cousins had him poisoned out of fear of loss of wealth. The scarcity mentality causes jealousy, hatred, anger, pettiness, miserliness, and is sometimes the rod prodding one to commit violence and murder. Therefore, the scarcity mentality is condemned in Islam as a trick of the devil.

This same verse also highlights the abundance mentality as a gift from God. The verse mentions God’s name al-Wāsi (The All-Encompassing) which means that God’s treasures are limitless and abundant. It also means that everything belongs to God and He is the one who distributes his treasures among His Creation. It also means that God’s generosity is limitless. All these meanings engrave in the mind of the believer an abundance mentality. Furthermore, in this same verse, God promises abundance for His servants.

This verse shapes the believer’s mindset regarding wealth and sustenance. Ideas of poverty, competition, jealousy, and pettiness are all tricks of the devil to push us into evil actions. While obedience to God leads to abundance, maybe not in material wealth but in contentment, happiness, inner peace, Baraka, and good character. All of which are more important than material wealth.

When a person adopts an abundance mentality, worries about this world fall away. Without worry, a person is able to be more charitable, generous, caring, happy, and content. This leads to a higher quality of life and better mental health overall.

This article was adapted from chapter seven of my latest book Productivity Principles of Umar II. The book is available at Amazon and Gumroad. (CLICK HERE to get the ebook from Gumroad at a discounted price – limited availability)

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, Positive Thinking, 1 comment
Why Optimism Matters

Why Optimism Matters

Optimism can seem like such a cliche. It seems like something that the self-help guru tells you to do and you just know it isn’t going to work.

He asks you to close your eyes, imagine your goal, visualize it, and believe you WILL accomplish it. But you don’t do any of that because it seems all cheesy and weird. So instead, you just go about your life as usual, being ‘realistic’ and ‘practical’ about goals and dreams i.e. never chasing them or even thinking you can accomplish them.

But what if there is something to optimism after all. At the very least, something psychological.

The power of optimism

Sure, optimism may not shape the world, bend destiny in your favor, or attract money into your life. Sure, all that may seem like cheesy self-help nonsense, but optimism can do one important thing; inspire massive action.

You see, to accomplish any major goal you need to take massive action and push through all kinds of obstacles and barriers. But if you are not even the least bit optimistic about your goals, you will not be able to muster the enthusiasm to push through and get things done. The more optimistic you are, the more likely you are to actually get things done.

Perhaps that is the purpose of optimism. Not to attract ‘the universe’ into your life. Not to bend destiny in your favor. But simply to give you the inner strength and excitement to take the action you need to get what you want.

So go ahead, give those cheesy optimism activities a chance. You never know, it might just give you the energy boost you need to do what needs to be done to finally to achieve your goals!

Want to learn more about self-help? Check out our Self-Help Starter pack today!

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Positive Thinking, 0 comments

4 Quotes to motivate you today

4 Quotes to motivate you today

Keeping things light and motivational today, here are 4 quotes to reflect on. If you are feeling lazy to work towards your goals, or feeling down because of failure, here is a quick pick-me-up for you.

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

Everybody fails on the path towards their goals. It isn’t a big deal. In fact, it is very important. Because failure is the best teacher. It teaches us what doesn’t work. Through failure, we learn to think deeper, become more intelligent about the matter and try new ways. This is why I don’t call them failures, I call them learning experiences.

“The real opportunity for success lies within the person and not the job.” – Zig Ziglar

Just yesterday I dealt with a case that reminded me of this quote. A brother who always complains about his job, low salary and lack of opportunity was offered a better job, better salary and bigger opportunity. Guess what happened? He got fired within one week for not doing the job properly.

It doesn’t really matter what opportunity you start with. Everybody starts somewhere. What matters is what you do with it. Work hard, be your best and give your best. Someway, somehow, it will pay off. So go out today and simply be the best version of you that you can be.

“Every day you spend drifting away from your goals is a waste not only of that day but also of the additional day it takes to regain lost ground.” – Ralph Marston

I have this quote highlighted in my diary for a very simple reason: every day that I feel too lazy to write is a waste of two days. The day I did not write and the day I spent catching up. This helps me overcome my laziness and push forward. If something is important to you, make time for it. Each day that you don’t is two days wasted.

“Some (people) live for a short time and accomplish great things, because they value that time.” – Getting The Barakah

One thing that always fascinates me in history are great people who lived short lives. Whether it is a scholar like Imam An-Nawawi (RA) or an activist like Malcolm X. It is truly fascinating how much a person can accomplish in a short time if they have clear goals and manage their time well. None of us know how much time we have on earth. So let us spend every day working to accomplish as much as possible.

That last quote is from my book ‘Getting The Barakah‘ which you can purchase here. It is also available in Kindle and Paperback format under a new name ‘Time Management and Barakah in Islam‘.

Quotes about Barakah
Click the picture to purchase the eBook.
Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Positive Thinking, Productivity, 0 comments

Gratitude in the age of complaining

Gratitude

Gratitude: A Fundamental of Faith

Gratitude is from the fundamental qualities of a Muslim. In fact, it directly impacts our relationship with our Creator. The following story illustrates this beautifully:

When Ayesha Bint Abi Bakr (RA) saw the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) praying a long night prayer in tears, she asked him a very practical question. She asked, “Oh Prophet of Allah, why do you go through so much effort (in worship) even though Allah has forgiven for you your earlier and later sins?”

His reply was extremely brief and profound, “Should I not be a thankful servant?” (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 1130 and Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2819)

The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) relationship with Allah was founded on gratitude. As he is our role model, we too should aim to have a relationship with Allah based upon gratitude.

The results of such gratitude is clear in Allah’s promise:

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)

The promise of Allah is simple and clear: be grateful, you will receive more bounties. Be ungrateful, and your sources of misery will increase

Positive Thinking And Self Help

In Self Help material, no matter how secular the author, there is a strong emphasis on gratitude. Many people around the world have experienced increase in blessings when they live a life of gratitude. Some secular sources list as many as 30 benefits of gratitude.

When modern research and Islamic principles agree on the importance of being grateful and thankful, why then is ingratitude so common today?

The Age of Complaining

Complaining and taking offence have become international hobbies. There doesn’t seem to be a single day in which Muslims are not upset, offended by, angry or ranting about something.

We complain about everything: politics, scholars, lack of scholars, people being too conservative, people being too liberal, someone using words we didn’t like, and of course Islamaphobia.  The list goes on and on.

While many of these are legit grievances, ask yourself how much has your complaining actually helped the ummah?

At the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), did he not have as many things to complain about? He was exiled from his city, slandered by his people, lost many of those closest to him, and injured by his enemies. Yet his response to all this was “Should I not be a thankful servant?”

Despite all the negative events occurring around him, he always found something to be grateful for, so should we.

The Danger Of The Complaining Era

The problem with our current era is that all this complaining creates a negative vibe. We end up full of rage, malcontent, bitterness, and sadness. None of these emotions are productive, and as a result, we spend so much time complaining, but so little time actually doing anything constructive.

This needs to change, and the change has to start with us. We need to let go of our habit of complaining, and replace it with a habit of thanking Allah.

How to make the shift

The first step to change this is to become more selective in our social media. The way most of us configure our social media accounts, we are bombarded with negative news and comments all day long. This makes it almost impossible to experience any positive emotion at any point in the day.

Instead, create some filters. Let your main news feeds reflect only positive accounts, keep more depressing accounts aside for only when you need to read them. And PLEASE avoid the comment section at all costs!

In a previous article, I listed 25 ways to express gratitude daily. I highly recommend reading that article and applying its teachings to your life. The list is short, simple and extremely practical.

Personally, I start each day by listing three things to be grateful for, and then thanking Allah for these blessings, and I try to make a unique list every single day. This helps me start my day on a positive note, and avoid negative emotions.

If you make the shift from complaining to expressing gratitude, you will experience inner peace, positive emotions, increased productivity, and an increase in blessings. So what are you waiting for, make the change today!

 

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Positive Thinking, 4 comments