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

3 Reasons Every Muslim Should Learn Time Management

Reasons to learn time management

Every Muslim must learn time management and here is why:

One of the more irritating parts of being a Muslim who is focused on time management is that I end up spending a lot of time waiting for others. This is because many Muslims are late for everything, from appointments to classes, meetings, and even Salah. In general, if someone plans to meet me at 6pm, I am usually there at 5:45pm and they usually pitch up around 6:30pm. (at the earliest)

Being late for appointments and Salah are such a norm in Muslim society today, that we even joke about it and call it MST (Muslim Standard Time). As funny as that sounds, it does indicate a problem with our ummah, a lack of time management.

As Muslims, time management should be a skill we as a community should master, at least for the following three reasons:

1. We will be asked by Allah about our time and how we spend it

“Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death” (Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim) learn time management

This hadith lists five blessings which each of us will be questioned about on the Last Day. Allah will ask us how we spent our youth, our health, our wealth, our lives and our time. Knowing this, how can we justify wasting our lives away  without any control over how we spend it?

As believers, we must take stock of our time and hold ourselves accountable for how we manage it before Allah calls us into account for it on the Last Day.

2. We know that life in this world is temporary

“Definitely, I made whatever is on this earth beautiful to test which of them are best in their deeds, and I will make all of it into dry soil,” (Surah Al-Kahf 18:7-8)

This world is a test and it will eventually come to an end. Knowing that the world will end and that our time in this world is likely to end long before that should create a sense of urgency in how we live our lives. We only have a limited amount of time to make things count and to accomplish as much as we can. Knowing this, there is no excuse for the mismanagement of our time.

3. Time is a provision from Allah

“There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time for doing good.” (Bukhari 8/421)

Many people think of only wealth as Rizq (sustenance) but our health and time on this earth are also provisions from Allah, and just like we are accountable for our we spend our wealth, we are accountable for how we spend our time.

Time is an asset, if mismanaged it can lead to years of regret. If managed well, it can lead to accomplishing more in our short time on earth that you thought possible. The choice is yours, each individual needs to realize the value of their time and make every day count. This is why every Muslim must learn time management.

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Time Management, 0 comments

Salah: The Key to Inner Peace

Finding inner peace through Salah

The five daily Salah are the most important acts of worship to establish. This is the second pillar of Islam, our primary link to Allah and our daily reminder of the purpose of life. It is also our primary means of attaining inner peace.

Abandoning the five daily Salah is likewise the primary cause of misguidance and leads to Kufr. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The difference between us and them (disbelievers) is Salah, so whoever abandons it has disbelieved,” (Saheeh Muslim)inner peace

Many scholars have understood this Hadith to mean that the abandonment of Salah, is itself, an act of Kufr. This is something to reflect on, as it shows the importance of Salah.

It is important to note that when we are talking about the five daily Salah, we are referring primarily to the Fard (obligatory) Rakahs of each Salah.

These are:

  1. Two Rakah every morning before sunrise – Fajr
  2. Four Rakah every afternoon after the sun begins its decline – Dhuhr
  3. Four Rakah every mid-afternoon before sunset – Asr
  4. Three Rakah every evening after sunset – Maghrib
  5. Four Rakah every night after total darkness sets in – Esha

These are the obligatory Salah and our priority should be getting them in order. As for the additional prayers like two before Fajr, and two after Dhuhr, Maghirb or Esha, these are all optional and recommended. The priority should be on that which is obligatory. Once that is in order, we can add in these recommended Salahs.

The purpose of Salah is mentioned in two verses of the Qur’an. Both objectives are linked to the development of Inner Peace. Allah says, “Establish Salah to remember me,” (Surah Taha 20:14) and “And Establish the Salah! Definitely, Salah prevents immorality and sin, and the remembrance of Allah is greatest,” (Surah Al-Ankaboot 29:45)

Between these two verses, we can say that the primary purpose of Salah is to remind us of Allah and our duties towards Him five times every day. The result of that is that we will be protected from immorality and sin through the remembrance of Allah. This is why Allah refers to the remembrance of Allah as the greatest goal of Salah.

However, this goal can only be accomplished if we pray with concentration, sincerity and understanding. It is in this area that many of us have failed. For many Muslims today, Salah has been reduced to a ritual of movements and words which they do not understand or even care to understand. As a result, it has no impact on their hearts and lives and they do not experience the benefits of Salah.

In order to attain inner peace, Salah must be prayed with understanding, reflection, sincerity and concentration. Sincerity is the first obligation. We must pray Salah solely for the pleasure of Allah, not to please people or “just to get it over with”. Salah must be done consciously as a means of getting closer to the Creator.

After sincerity, the next condition is understanding. The best way to understand what we are reciting is to learn Arabic. Yet for many Muslims this is difficult and unlikely. The next best step then is to at least learn the translation and explanation of what you recite in your Salah.

Besides understanding, we also must pray Salah with concentration. Salah is in many ways an exercise in focus, concentration and developing inner peace. Allah has described the true believers as, “Those who pray their Salah with Khushoo (concentration and inner peace),” (Surah Al-Muminoon 23:2) as well as, “Those who guard their Salah” (Surah Al-Muminoon 23:9) by not missing a prayer on time.

Sincerity and understanding help us to concentrate in our Salah. Beyond that, it is a matter of self-discipline. Focus on being in the moment, do not think about what you are going to do after Salah, or where your keys are. Focus on Allah and developing a relationship with Him. This is your best training in developing inner peace. If you can experience inner peace during Salah, then you are on your way to righteousness.

The most important position in the Salah is the Sajdah. Many people look at the Sajdah as just another ritual aspect of the Salah, but in reality it is the ultimate sign of submission to the Creator of the Heavens and earth. The Sajdah is so important that we have two Sajdahs in every Rakah of Salah.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The closest that a servant gets to Allah is during his Sajdah,” This means that our Sajdah is the time when we are closest to Allah and our duas are most likely to be accepted.

The Sajdah is supposed to be a time in which we make dua and pour our hearts out to Allah asking for His Assistance and Forgiveness in every aspect of our lives. I am of the opinion that the dua in Sajdah can be in any language as Allah hears and understands all languages and would not make this crucial moment of acceptance only for those who speak Arabic.

Following these steps will help transform our Salah into a beautiful experience which benefits us. It brings us closer to Allah and is a means through which we experience inner peace.

Once you have established the obligatory Salah as a regular part of your life, then build upon it by adding more Salah to your daily habits. Start with the two Rakah before Fajr and the Witr after Esha. These are recommended Salahs that the Prophet (peace be upon him) never missed.

Then add the other recommended prayers to your habits like the two after Dhuhr, Maghrib and Esha, and the Tahajjud (late night prayer). In this way, one builds a habit of praying Salah with Khushoo, this is essential for establishing inner peace on a daily basis.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace, 4 comments