Stress Management

Unedited Thoughts #5: Privilege is from Allah

Privilege is from Allah

Privilege is from Allah

A new trend that popped up in recent times is complaining about privilege. Young people have taken to complaining about the privilege that others enjoy because of their gender, race, beauty, intelligence, or background. Muslims seem to have jumped on this bandwagon too. (Of course, they have. They want to follow the disbelievers into the lizard hole)

Now SOME of these complaints are legit, but many come across as whiny and petty. Complaining that someone else is pretty or handsome, so they are privileged is petty. Complaining about someone else being more intelligent than you and using that to get ahead in their career is petty. But it is more than just pettiness that is a problem here for Muslims.

A Violation Of Islamic Fundamentals

This attitude of complaining about someone else’s privilege is flat out unislamic and violates four key principles of Islam:

  1. Accepting one’s destiny (Qadar)
  2. Understanding that all Rizq is from Allah i.e. each person is given by Allah what Allah believes is best for them
  3. Being content with what Rizq Allah has given you
  4. Avoiding jealousy for the Rizq Allah has given to others

Again, I am not talking about every complaint of privilege. Some are legit. For example, complaining about white privilege in a clearly racist society is understandable. (Understandable but still not the best course of action) However, complaining that wealthy people being privileged is against the above four principles of Islam.

A religion of action, not complaining

Islam does not encourage complaining and whining. The modern attitude of complaining about every little thing on Twitter is unislamic and doesn’t solve any problem. Islam is a religion of action.

Simply put: life is a test. Allah puts us in situations to test how we will deal with these situations. Complaining about Allah putting you in the situation is unislamic. Finding a solution and working towards it is Islamic.

Example: Yes, a wealthy person has several privileges that a less well-off person does not have. They also have tests from Allah that you do not have. He has his test in life, and you have yours. Focus on passing your test, instead of complaining about the cards you have been handed.

Privilege is part of Rizq

Rizq is not limited to money. Whatever Allah has given his Creation is called Rizq. And Allah has purposely distributed each gift unequally, as each human has a unique life, unique test, and unique gift. It is unequal, yet just. Because Allah is Most Just and He knows what is best for each person.

Rizq includes all of the following: your wealth, health, lifespan, intelligence, access to resources, education, time, youth, beauty, and anything else that people receive without being able to choose. Simply put: the majority of types of privilege are part of the Rizq that Allah has given to some of his servants, and not others.

This is confirmed by the following verses of the Quran:

Say, “O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent.

You cause the night to enter the day, and You cause the day to enter the night; and You bring the living out of the dead, and You bring the dead out of the living. And You give provision to whom You will without account.”

(Surah Aale-Imraan 3:26-27, Saheeh International Translation)

These verses confirm that all things we receive are from Allah and part of our Rizq. Wealth, power, authority, honor, social status, there are all part of our Rizq. Allah gives it to whom He wills and withholds it from whom He wills.

Complaining About Allah

As a result, complaining about privilege can, in many if not most situations, become complaining about Allah and his distribution of Rizq. It can become complaining about Qadar, malcontent and jealousy for the gifts Allah has given other creations.

The problem with modern theories is that they are divorced from the Divine. Allah is not factored into the equation and this causes people to take up opinions, theories, and ideas that are insulting to Allah, and unislamic. The solution is to become grounded in Islamic Theology and choose one’s words and actions accordingly.

What to do instead

Instead of complaining about the Rizq Allah has given others, a Muslim must do the following:

  1. Accept that this world is a test and never going to be perfect. Some people will always have a worldly advantage over others.
  2. Accept that your situation is your test, and you need to deal with it accordingly. It can change with effort, dua and hard work, but not with complaining.
  3. Believe that this world is temporary and the Afterlife is our priority. Give preference to preparing for the Afterlife over trying to make this life perfect. Don’t spend so much time arguing about why things are unfair in this world, that you forget to pile up good deeds for the next world.
  4. If something is a genuine Islamic concern, possible to change, and within your abilities to do so, then work on changing it from within an Islamic framework with Allah’s Help.

Our generation spends too much time fighting and arguing on social media over why this person has this advantage or that advantage. We need to stop these petty fights and focus instead on what matters: our relationship with Allah and our preparations for the life to come.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Stress Management, 1 comment

How To Handle Stress At Work – 7 Practical Steps

How to handle stress at work

So you want to know how to handle stress at work? I get it. Work is one of the primary causes of stress in life, especially if you have to deal with difficult people. How to handle stress at work

Stress at work comes in all different forms and shapes. Some of it is actually good stress like deadlines and potential promotions. These motivate us to work harder and actually get things done.

Then there are the crises. An angry customer. A broken machine. The grumpy boss. An unanticipated blunder.

Too many of us go into panic mode when dealing with these issues. But there are many ways to deal with them for productively. Try these 7 things instead:

1. Be Prepared

If you expect your work-life to ever be 100% stress-free, then you are setting yourself up for disappointed. Stresses are a part of life, and especially a part of work. After all, doesn’t the word ‘work’ indicating doing something stressful?

The first thing you can do to leverage work stress is to be prepared for it. Make mental notes of things that can possibly go wrong. Now make mental notes of how you will deal with each situation should they ever arise. This way, you will prepared and ready when such situations occur.

2. Focus on your priorities

When facing a work crisis, it is very easy to get lost in the drama and forget priorities. The key here is to remain focused on what matters: your priorities. Forbes Magazine also recommends prioritizing as a way of dealing with work stress.

Simply put, no matter what the crisis is: figure out your priorities for the day focus on getting those done.

3. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Muslim Matters has a really awesome article on Sunnah relaxation techniques. Adopt the ones that work best for you and utilize them during such stressful situations. Even simple steps like washing your face, taking a walk (my favorite) or breathing exercises will go a long way in helping you stay calm under pressure. Research the topic further and find what works for you. (Just make sure to keep it halal, so no smoking!)

4. Work on long term deadlines in advance

One easily avoidable cause of stress are looming deadlines. This usually happens when we procrastinate and leave work until a few days/hours/minutes before the deadline. An easy way to overcome this is to simply start working on a project as soon as you receive it, and don’t wait for the deadline.

In my time management eBook, Getting The Barakah, I explain an easy method to do this. I call it chunking. Basically, you just break the project up into easily done daily tasks and work on one such task a day until the entire project is done. In this way, you get things done ahead of the deadline with minimal  stress. Check out my eBook Getting The Barakah for more details.

5. Deal with a crisis one step at a time

A simple answer to the question: How to handle stress at work? One step at a time!

The crisis is in front of you, you have choice: stress about it or roll up your sleeves and get to work. The productive option is obviously. Figure out what needs to be done to avert the crisis and start working on it, one step at a time. Don’t stress about the entire solution, just focus on the step at hand until it is done. Then move on to the next one.

In this way, step by step you will solve the problem and avert the crisis.

6. Remind yourself that it will pass

A new day, a new work crisis. Nothing lasts forever, and every work crisis will pass. Remind yourself of this whenever you feel overwhelmed. Whatever we are dealing with today will pass if we stay focused on the solution. So there is no need to panic. And no benefit in losing our minds.

Remind yourself about this every time you face a work crisis, and you will be able to tackle it with a clearer mind.

7. Learn from the experience

In my Self-Confidence eBook Best Of Creation, I dedicate an entire chapter to the importance of learning from one’s mistakes. Mistakes and crises are important work experience. How you deal with them will reflect on your resume.

When people say they are looking to hire someone with experience, this includes having experienced work stress and crises and dealt with them appropriately. At the end of the day, how you deal with crises shape the kind of worker you are. These are the experiences that make you valuable, so embrace the challenge and tackle it with a positive mindset and the humility needed to learn!

And that is how to handle stress at work!

Shaykh Ismail Kamdar is the author of multiple eBooks and the founder of Islamic Self Help. Check out our blog for more articles by him.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Stress Management, 5 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
5 Ways To Overcome Failure

5 Ways To Overcome Failure

Ways to overcome failure:

There are many ways to overcome failure. Failing to meet a goal is a natural part of progress. As the old proverb states: “If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying anything new”. When it comes to our goals, we often are held back by one of two extremes:

1. We are afraid to fail, so we don’t even try
2. We are so sure we won’t fail, that we get disillusioned and give up as soon as we face our first taste of failure

Being afraid to fail is something I tackled in details in my book Best Of Creation: An Islamic Guide To Self-Confidence. In this post, I want to tackle the second issue, dealing with failure itself when it hits us. So here are my five steps for overcoming failure:

1. Expect it to happen

It is naive to think that we can accomplish all of our goals in life without facing any tests and setbacks along the way. Tests and setbacks are a natural part of life, so we should expect them, plan for them, and deal with them wisely. Whether it comes to our spiritual goals or worldly goals, we will be tested, and it is these moments of test that show who we really are inside.

One of the ways to overcome failure is to expect things to go wrong. If they do, deal with them as planned. If they don’t, be grateful to Allah and take it as gift from Allah. This makes it a Win/Win situation for you.

2. Accept Your Qadar

Qadar (Destiny) is a very misunderstood concept, regarding which people swing between a fatalistic viewpoint and its opposite. Islam teaches us the middle way, but this is not the place for a detailed discussion on Qadar.

Related to our topic, if you made your plans, made your best effort and stilled failed to attain your goal, then do not despair or feel angry. There are things which are beyond our control and we must accept that what Allah decrees for us is best for us.

If your goal is noble, keep pursuing it knowing that when the time is right, Allah will open the door to help you achieve it. Accepting Qadar and knowing that Allah knows what is best for us gives us a sense of peace and contentment when we do not get what we want in this world.

3. Have a Plan B, C, D, E….

One of the ways to overcome failure is to have backup plans. The chances of accomplishing your goal at the very first instance is highly unlikely. So as brilliant as your current plan may be, you need to plan for when things don’t go your way. Think about anything that could possibly go wrong and how you can deal with it. Make a backup plan, and a backup plan for that backup plan, so that no matter what goes wrong, you continue towards your goal through alternative routes.

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions set off from Madinah to perform Umrah in Makkah, they were prevented from entering Makkah. This led to Plan B, signing a peace treaty with the leaders of Makkah, allowing them to perform the Umrah the next year. It meant fulfilling their goal of making Umrah one year later, but they accomplished their goal nonetheless, and so much more too. They did not turn back and give up, they found another way to accomplish the goal later.

4. The Sabr Factor – Keep moving forward

Reflect on the Battle of Uhud. The Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions faced a huge setback at Uhud and lost many good men. They did not despair or give up, the next day they were back on the march despite being injured. They pushed on towards their goal even when things weren’t going their way, and that is one of the factors that opened the doors of victory for them.

This is the Sabr factor. Sabr is not a passive act of sitting back and doing nothing, expecting help to arrive in a miraculous fashion. Sabr is the active attribute of persevering, patiently planning, resisting the temptation to give up and moving forward in spite of the odds. If we want to accomplish anything, we need Sabr as there is no shortcut to true success in this world or the next. Every goal worth accomplishing requires bucketloads of Sabr, so make sure you stock up!

5. Be Flexible

While pursuing your goals, keep an eye out for better goals, nobler pursuits, greater callings or alternative routes to attain your goals. It may be that the goal you set for yourself at age 20 is not something you want to stick to for life. If while chasing that goal, you are introduced to something even better for you, then consider shifting focus. It may be that the earlier goal was temporary to lead you towards this better goal.

In the early years of Islam, many companions moved to Abyssinia, and settled there. Many years later, many of them migrated to Madinah as it had become a better environment to practice and serve Islam in. Likewise, it may be your goal to move to a certain land or practice a certain profession now, yet later in life better opportunities may open up for you. Consider shifting focus as life is constantly changing, so do not stay too focused on the past, look for what is best for your family and yourself in the Afterlife primarily, and in this world as well.

These are five ways to overcome failure that keep me moving forward whenever I fail to meet a goal. I hope in inspires you to do the same. 🙂

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Self Confidence, Stress Management, Time Management, 1 comment

What is Positive Stress?

What is positive stress?

Any stress that pushes you to do your best and improve is positive stress. We all need a push to improve. Without such a push, we just fumble through life without accomplishing anything. For success in both worlds, stress is necessary, and there are many examples of positive stress in both our spiritual and material lives.

An example of a spiritual form of positive stress is the fear of the Hellfire. As Muslims, we believe that the Hellfire is a real creation of Allah, and it is the final destination of those who consciously reject Allah and His message. It is also a temporary destination for those who choose to live lives of sin, despite believing. Fear oPositive Stressf the Hellfire keeps people from committing sins and avoiding obligations. This is a good type of stress if balanced with hope in Allah’s Mercy

This only becomes a negative form of stress if it is misunderstood or unbalanced. In some communities, the Hellfire is overemphasized and Paradise is rarely mentioned. Youth growing up in which communities grow up under a lot of stress to be perfect, and perfection is impossible. The result is that many young people lose hope in Allah’s Mercy, they crack under too much stress of His Punishment, become despondent and fall into a life of sin and hopelessness. Balancing fear and hope is key in making this a positive stress in the lives of believers.

We all face situations in which we are tempted to commit great evil, and nobody is watching us except Allah. If our faith is strong enough, then at such moments the stress of thinking about displeasing Allah is enough to prevent us from committing such major sins. If not, then it is at least strong enough to make us feel guilty and make us repent from our sins, as Allah is the Accepter of all repentance.

This is a good example of a positive form of stress that we cannot afford to live without. We need this stress to keep us from making mistakes that can harm us in both worlds.

Likewise, in our worldly lives, there are many examples of positive stress. A good example of this is the concept of deadlines. Deadlines exist to keep us stressed enough to get our work done on time. Without deadlines, many people will never get their work done ever. As someone who has spent the past few years in a management position, I know that deadlines are critical for successfully managing a team. Yes, they do stress employees out, but it is stress that motivates them to work and get things done, and this is positive stress.

Likewise, bills are a positive form of stress. If people did not have bills to pay and things to buy, they wouldn’t work. People who don’t need to work often end up lazy, unproductive and wasting their lives away. Knowing that you have bills to pay at the end of the month is a positive stress that leads you to excel at your career and work hard, and the world benefits from hardworking people.

The desire to fulfil your dreams and goals before death is a positive form of stress. Knowing that our time in this world is temporary pushes us to seize the day and make each day count. In this way, we strive to accomplish our goals and make the most of our lives. Without the fear of death, there would be no urgency to seize the day and make it count.

I hope this has made you realize that you do not need to eliminate stress from your life altogether. Embrace the positive stressors in your life, and accept them as a motivational source to help you excel and be your best. It is only negative stress that needs to be eliminated or reduced significantly.

The advantages of Positive Stress can be summarized as the following:

  1. They get us to work
  2. They push us to be our best
  3. They protect us from sin and laziness
  4. They give us a reason to live
  5. Without stress, nothing would ever get done

This article is an extract from Abu Muawiyah’s upcoming book on Stress Management, available early 2016.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Stress Management, 0 comments