Thinking Beyond Oneself

Thinking Beyond Oneself

We live in an age of hyper-individualism (a tendency for people to act in a highly individual way, without regard to society). Many young people today have grown up in an environment that has made them extremely self-focused. The Self-Help industry has played a major role in making this problem worse. Everything is about your goals, your dreams, and your desires. Many people have reached a dangerous level of self-centeredness. At this point, life has become all about the self. There is no sense of family, community or ummatic concern. The needs and desires of the self override everything else.

Islam, however, calls on us to find balance between fulfilling the rights of the Creator, the rights of the Creation and our own needs and goals. This balance is missing a lot of modern culture. Many young people do not want to get married because they do not want the responsibility of another person. If they do get married, many young people do not want to have children because they see children as a burden and an obstacle in the way of their personal goals. The idea of one’s neighbours, community or the ummah as a whole having rights over oneself has become a foreign idea in the minds of many people.

This problematic paradigm needs to be adjusted. People need to learn how to care about others. The dangers of not doing so is that many people will end up alone, and communities will slowly fall apart. Communities thrive when people care about each other and put the needs of others above their own. To get back to this natural way of living, here are a few necessary steps we can all take.

Embrace Responsibility

Muslims must be responsible and socially conscious people. The rights of others are not a burden, but an opportunity for us to become the best versions of ourselves. It is through taking care of the rights of others that we find fulfilment and true happiness. Responsibility is necessary for growth, and for unlocking better versions for ourselves.

Start small and take up responsibilities around the home and at work. When you are ready, embrace the responsibility of starting a family. As your family grows, so will you. Marriage and becoming a parent are important milestones that shape us and help us grow into better versions of ourselves. So do not delay these important steps unnecessarily. Over time, you will find more joy in fulfilling your family responsibilities then in selfish pursuits.

Learn more about other people and their lives

Too many of us live in silos. We sit all day at home working online, while surfing social media and streaming movies and tv shows. Such people lack real lives and connection with others. This is an unnatural way of life that has made us disconnected from humanity. It is time to break away from these dangerous habits and embrace the real world.

Leave the comfort of your home. Talk to real people. Learn about their challenges, problems, and dreams. Form real friendships and connections with others. This will help you develop more empathy for people and change the way you think about life and your goals. Once you connect deeply with enough people and understand their problems, your own goals may evolve from selfish pursuits to solving societal problems. It is then that you will discover the true joy of contribution. A joy that the selfish person can never understand.

Make time to serve your community. Volunteer to help others. Go out and do what you can for others. Assist your neighbours, join a community development initiative, and get involved in helping others. There is far more joy in service than in being alone. Over time, you will learn to enjoy this more than your personal pursuits.

Study the Quran and Sunnah teachings on this topic

The Quran and Sunnah are full of wisdom on the importance of family, community and ummatic concern. We will end with some quotations from the Quran and Sunnah for you to reflect on. Hopefully, this reflection can inspire true and deep change in all of us.

Quran on Ummah

“You are the best community that ever emerged for humanity: you advocate what is moral, and forbid what is immoral, and believe in God.” (Surah Ale-Imran 3:110)

“And cooperate with one another in virtuous conduct and conscience, and do not cooperate with one another in sin and hostility. And fear God. God is severe in punishment.” (Surah al-Ma’idah 5:2)

“This nation of yours is one nation, and I am your Lord, so fear Me.” (Surah al-Muminun 23:52)

Hadiths on Caring for others

“Seek out the vulnerable for me, for you are only given provision and divine support due to your care for the vulnerable.” (Abu Dawud 2594)

“The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” (Sahih Bukhari 6011, Sahih Muslim 2586)

“Whoever would love to be shaded in the shade of Allah, let him help someone in hardship or waive a loan.” (Musnad Ahmad 15520)

“Allah continues to fulfill the needs of the servant as long as he fulfills the needs of his brother.” (Mu’jam al-Kabir 4664)

“The merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth, and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.” (Tirmidhi 1924)

“Verily, the believers are like bricks of a building, each part strengthening the other,” (Sahih Bukhari 481, Sahih Muslim 2585)

“There is a (compulsory) Sadaqa (charity) to be given for every joint of the human body (as a sign of gratitude to Allah) everyday the sun rises. To judge justly between two persons is regarded as Sadaqa, and to help a man concerning his riding animal by helping him to ride it or by lifting his luggage on to it, is also regarded as Sadaqa, and (saying) a good word is also Sadaqa, and every step taken on one’s way to offer the compulsory prayer (in the mosque) is also Sadaqa and to remove a harmful thing from the way is also Sadaqa.” (Sahih Bukhari 2989)

Hadiths on avoiding jealousy and hatred between believers

“Renounce the world and Allah will love you, and renounce what the people possess and the people will love you.” (Nawawi’s 40 Hadith, 31)

“None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself.” (Sahih Bukhari 13)

“Do not envy one another, and do not inflate prices for one another, and do not hate one another, and do not turn away from one another, and do not undercut one another in trade, but [rather] be slaves of Allah and brothers [amongst yourselves]. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim: he does not oppress him, nor does he fail him, nor does he lie to him, nor does he hold him in contempt. Taqwa (piety) is right here [and he pointed to his chest three times]. It is evil enough for a man to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. The whole of a Muslim is inviolable for another Muslim: his blood, his property, and his honour.” (Sahih Muslim 2564)

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Leadership, Productivity
NEW COURSE: Islamic Parenting

NEW COURSE: Islamic Parenting

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  6. The case for homeschooling

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  5. The Role of Fathers in Parenting
  6. The Case for the Stay-At-Home mum
  7. The Case for Homeschooling
  8. Raising Daughters
  9. Raising Sons
  10. Parenting during the Early Years
  11. Designing Your Home Environment
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  13. Building Resilience in Children
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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Homeschooling
Reframing the Obstacles in our lives

Reframing the Obstacles in our lives

Anyone who has ever attempted to accomplish an important goal has faced obstacles. It is the way of the world that when you set out to accomplish something big, everything will go wrong, and various speedbumps arise between you and your goal. It may feel like the world is conspiring against you and forcing you to make a choice. At this point, you have two choices: give up or power through. Too many of us choose to give up at the first obstacle, so we never live up to our full potential.

What causes us to give up so easily? It could be a lack of belief in the importance of our goal, or a lack of self-discipline. Maybe it is a desire for instant gratification or being sold a false dream of quick riches. It really could be that we are just lazy and do not want to put in the work needed to accomplish important goals, or that we are weak and unable to manage the trials of life. Whatever the reason, I believe that reframing the problem can help us overcome these obstacles and work our way towards our eventual goals.

Obstacles are really opportunities for growth

Think of your obstacles as opportunities. You wanted to build a successful business overnight, but multiple obstacles are in your way. These are not your enemies. These are simply opportunities to learn how business works, how to excel in your field, and how to solve major problems. The best life lessons are learned on the field when facing challenges and overcoming them.

An important life skill for anyone to develop is problem solving. The obstacles we face in life give us a chance to learn, demonstrate and refine our critical thinking skills. It is through these trials that we grow and evolve into better versions of ourselves. Simply put, without obstacles we will stagnate and never truly upgrade our skillsets.

Obstacles are actually just tests of will power

How willing are you to accomplish your goal? Do you really know yourself and the limits of your will power? Well good news for you, an obstacle is here to assess your will power for you. All you have to do is power through it and you will know that you have more will power than you ever realized before.

Be excited to face the next obstacle. It is a chance to prove to yourself that you have the willpower to beat the odds, overcome any setbacks, and work through every obstacle. Face it head on and take it as a challenge to prove that you are a model of true will power.

Obstacles are, in fact, necessary to accomplish our goals

An obstacle may have popped up because you lack something key to accomplishing your goal. And that key lies in learning from this obstacle and overcoming it. It may be that you need certain knowledge to succeed in life, but you can only gain that knowledge or experience from working through this obstacle. So, the obstacle has popped up at the right time to give you what you need to grow.

Sometimes what seems like an obstacle is, in fact, the way forward. The path you had chosen for yourself was going to lead to ruin or failure, but this obstacle may redirect you to a better path, one that is more likely to succeed. Stop looking at obstacles as signs to give up, start looking at them as part of the process of success.

Obstacles are what make success so much sweeter

When you narrate your success story to your descendants and students many decades from now, which part of the story do you think they will find most interesting? It will not be all those happy smooth days when everything was going your way. No, what they will really be interested in is what obstacles you faced and how you overcame those obstacles. It is that part of the story that makes it gripping and makes the happy ending so much sweeter.

You are living that part of the story right now. The pain, stress, anxiety, and fear you feel as you chase your goals are all part of the process. You too will find the taste of success so much sweeter if you must struggle to get it. Anything that we gain too easily we fail to appreciate. It is the goals we struggled for, and the obstacles that we overcame in the process, which make success so satisfying. Your story is not over yet, you are just in the most exciting chapter. Keep moving forward and finish your story.

Think Positive and reframe your obstacles accordingly.

Life is not meant to be easy. This is especially true if you want to accomplish remarkable things in your life. Let go of the defeatist attitude. Stop with the negative thinking. Prepare yourself to face a variety of challenges on the path to achieving your goals. Success does not come easily, but when it comes, it is so sweet. It was worth all the pain and all the hard work.

Everybody faces obstacles in their lives. But with a positive attitude, strong work ethic, firm trust in Allah, and a never-give-up attitude, you should be able to work through most obstacles and achieve amazing things with your life. If you want to accomplish something big, be ready to work for it, and to face various challenges on the way to accomplishing it. Success never comes easily, and it should not come easily.

Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. Recognize and acknowledge Allah in times of ease and prosperity, and He will remember you in times of adversity. And know that what has passed you by [and you have failed to attain] was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease.

Nawawi’s 40 Hadith, no: 19
Learn more about overcoming your obstacles and becoming the best version of yourself with this definitive guide to Islamic Masculinity.
Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Goal Setting, Positive Thinking
10 things to do when the situation seems hopeless

10 things to do when the situation seems hopeless

10 things to do when the situation seems hopeless and you are stuck in a trial beyond your control:

1) Accept your Qadar and accept that Allah knows what is best for you

2) Trust Allah’s Plan. What Allah has planned for you may be different from what you want for yourself, but it is always what is best for you

3) Make dua. Only Allah can change Qadar, move mountains, work miracles, and make a way out from where we do not expect, so pour your heart out to Allah in dua for everything we need and want.

4) Make good use of your time. You cannot control some things but you can control others. Utilize your time to worship Allah, do beneficial work, and find things to appreciate in life.

5) Take whatever steps you can find towards your goal, even if they are small. Never stop making an effort, you do not know from which small effort Allah will help you produce big results.

6) Focus on your Afterlife. You may not aways get what you want in this world, but your Afterlife is more important, so do not let your worldly worries distract you from prioritizing your Afterlife.

7) Increase your charity. You never know which act of kindness or charity could be a means of unlocking Divine assistance.

8) Ask others to make dua for you. You do not know which pious person’s duas will be answered, leading to a miracle that gets you out of your situation.

9) Recite Quran often. The beautiful message of the Quran will give you hope, no matter how difficult and dark the situation feels.

10) Study and reflect on the Seerah. Take lessons from the trials that the Prophet (pbuh) and Sahabah faced and how Allah helped them through these trials in miraculous ways. Let these stories be your inspiration, motivation, and source of optimism.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam