What exactly is Islamic Self Help?

What is Islamic Self Help?

Before looking at what is Islamic Self Help, let us define the genre Self Help. Self Help is a genre of literature thWhat is Islamic Self Helpat focuses on giving you the tools to help yourself improve as a person. Books focusing on confidence, stress management, time management, anger management, goal-chasing, focus, concentration, and positive psychology all fall under the category of Self Help books. Essentially, it is a book that you purchase to assist yourself in improving in a specific area of your life.

Self Help books are very popular in the twenty-first century due to the deficiency in our education system. The current school system is a twelve-year process of sapping one’s creativity, confidence and optimism, and a system in which important life skills like time management and goal-setting are overlooked, while the syllabus focuses on less important subjects like algebra and biology.

As a result, many young adults enter the adult world with no clue regarding what they want to do with their lives and how to achieve such goals. Algebra, second languages and biology aren’t going to help much if we have no idea what we are doing on this earth or what we plan to do with the rest of our time here.

This creates a dilemma for many adults who are wondering aimlessly day to day, just following social norms and suppressing all their unique talents and skills just so that they can fit in. Self-Help books exist to fill this void.

The problem for Muslims, however, is that most Self-Help books are written from a secular perspective leaving many readers puzzled as to whether the tools and skills taught therein are acceptable in Islam or not.

This is where I decided to step-in. Over the past six years, I have read dozens of Self-Help books and as a graduate in Islamic Studies, I analysed each principle and tool in light of the teachings of Islam. This allowed me to sift out the Halal from the Haram.

I realized there is a great need for books focusing on Personal Development (another name for Self-Help) from an Islamic Perspective, and decided to dedicate the next few years of my life to writing such books and articles. This is why I decided to start this website and dedicate it this topic. So inshaa Allah, through the articles and books on this website, I hope to share with you many tips and skills related to personal development, helping us all grow professionally and personally.

Not sure where to begin? Why not subscribe to this blog and receive a free copy of my e-book “10 Self-Help Tips from 10 Authentic Hadiths”. This will give you a taster of what to expect.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, 1 comment

Defying Stereotypes – How to live outside expectations

Defying Stereotypes

By defying stereotypes, these are the kind of stereotypes I am referring to:

By studying Islam, you are subjecting yourself to a life of poverty!

If you get married too young, you will not be able to have fun!

You can’t study, work and take care of a family at the same time!

If you don’t dress the way society wants you to, nobody will take you seriously!

If you homeschool your children, they will become unsociable!

These are just some of the many stereotypical expectations which I have strived to prove wrong over the past few years. Humans have a strange habit of limiting what we are capable of doing by enforcing man-made stereotypes and expectations. In many ways, we create our own limits and live our lives imprisoned by them.

Alhamdulillah, I have been gifted with a rebellious nature, which means whenever people tell me you can’t do this or that, without giving a genuine reason, I get a strong itch to prove them wrong!

Allah has created us with the potential to accomplish so much and gifted us with a religion that allows us to do any worldly thing that isn’t explicitly prohibited or harmful. This creates a situation in which there are so many possibilities and very few limits to what we can accomplish in our lives.

Yet for some reason, we were not content with the laws of Allah and decided to invent our own limitations, making life unnecessarily difficult and robbing ourselves of our own potential.

These limitations are generally linked to race, country, gender, age, family or career paths. You are told you can’t do that because you are a female, too young, too old, from a specific race, or because your family doesn’t do it that way. A lifetime of indoctrination of such self-limiting beliefs leads to young people who lack belief in themselves and are chained to cultural expectations.

It doesn’t have to be this way though. Allah has given each of us a brain to think for ourselves and the abilities to accomplish amazing things. It is up to every individual to use these skills to evaluate what to believe and what is just man-made nonsense.

From this day forward, do not allow the expectations of people to stop you from accomplishing anything great. The next time someone tells you, “You can’t do this because xyz reason,” ask them why! Is it something prohibited by the Creator? If so, thank them for reminding you and stay away from it. If not, then they need to provide a clear logical reason, otherwise it is just a self-limiting belief invented by someone.

Whenever you feel chained to such self-doubting beliefs, remember the following points:

1. Allah created you and has given you great skills and opportunities
2. Allah has given us a religion that allows us to do anything Halal we desire
3. Islam encourages us to strive for excellence (Ihsaan) in every aspect of our lives
4. You are primarily responsible for fulfilling your obligations to Allah and being your best self, not living by the expectations of His creation.

Allah has created you with gifts, skills and abilities to accomplish amazing things. Listen carefully to constructive criticism but ignore the doubters who tell you you can’t do it, simply because they did not chase their own goals and dreams.

Break that stereotype, defy those expectations and let the world see that, with the help of Allah, we have the ability to accomplish far more than we thought possible.

Best Of Creation: An Islamic Guide to Self-Confidence is available for purchase and download here.

Defying Stereotypes

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Goal Setting, Self Confidence, 2 comments

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

Dawah and Long Term Goals

Dawah

Over the past decade, I have seen many du’aat give up in their goals and vision because they were not seeing immediate results. This hasty attitude towards Dawah shows a lack of understanding of history and how the world works.

A critical analysis of the life of any great reviver of Islam will show us that their efforts to revive Islam took place over several decades, decades full of trials, patience, and constant growth and effort. It is very rare to find a reviver of Islam who accomplished much in a short period of time.

Some may claim that Umar Ibn Abdul Azeez revived Islam in two years, but they don’t take into consideration that it was the last two years of his life. And that it was after decades of studying Islam and serving in positions like Governor of Madinah or Vizier to King Sulaiman Ibn Abdul Malik. It took him a long time before he became Caliph and had the authority to revive Islam like that.

If you are serious about reviving Islam then you need to be ready for a life long commitment to the Dawah. This means you need to be ready to dedicate the next five decades at least to serving Allah’s Deen, whether you are witnessing results or not. This is the only way to cause real change in society, through constant life-long efforts with one’s trust in Allah. In fact, it is likely that the fruits of one’s efforts may only be witnessed in old age (like Ahmed Deedat), or may only really take place after one’s death (like Ibn Taymiyyah).

It doesn’t really matter when you accomplish such goals because your real goal is to do the Dawah for the sake of Allah and to earn His Pleasure in the Afterlife. We need to be real and focused on what matters most. Only then will we experience the true benefits of our Dawah in both worlds.

A reminder about the importance of Dawah in Surah Al-Asr

By Time
Indeed, mankind is at a loss
Except for those who believe, do righteous deeds, assist each other in the truth and assist each other in being patient and persistent.
(Surah Al-Asr 103:1-3)

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Goal Setting, 0 comments

The Virtue of Earning Your Own Income

earning income

Hadith on virtues of earning

Regarding earning, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“By Him in Whose Hand my life is, it is better for anyone of you to take a rope and cut the wood (from the forest) and carry it over his back and sell it (as a means of earning his living) rather than to ask a person for something and that person may give him or not.”(Saheeh Bukhari)

There are many ways to earn money in this world. Some are Halal and some are Haram. As Muslims, it is a given that we should avoid the prohibited means of earning wealth, and stick to that which is permissible.

Yet even within the permitted means of increasing wealth, some forms are greater than others. While it may be true that you can increase your halal wealth through inheriting, receiving gifts, asking for funding and relying on someone else for support, this Hadith emphasizes that the purest and best way to increase wealth is to earn it yourself through hard work.

This Hadith is usually quoted to support the prohibition of begging but it has other dimensions as well. The concept of earning one’s own wealth is connected to self-confidence, integrity and independence. Some people sit around dreaming of a day when they will inherit a lot of money or someone will give them what they desire as a gift.

A noble person will work hard to earn that wealth, and purchase what he desires. He will not wait around hoping for someone else to fulfil his needs or the needs of his family. This is really what Self-Help is all about. If you want something, do not sit around waiting for help. Work hard and help yourself to get it.

The end result of this is that you will feel stronger, more confident, nobler, and more fulfilled, as you worked hard and earned whatever it was that you desired.

This is an extract from my free e-book “10 Self-Help Tips from 10 Authentic Hadiths“. Subscribe to Islamic Self Help to get your copy. 

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Business, 0 comments