goal setting

Coming Soon: Islamic Self Help’s First Fiction Book

Coming Soon…

Islamic Self Help presents Shaykh Ismail Kamdar’s first fiction book: ‘Ahmad Climbs A Mountain: A Parable About Goal-Setting’. (coming soon…launching end of August 2017)

Coming Soon

Ahmad Climbs A Mountain will tell the tale of a young boy from a village in a valley with a high goal. He dreams of climbing a mountain, escaping the valley, and exploring the world on the other side.

What To Expect

This story will focus on Ahmad’s journey and the challenges he faces along the way. Climbing the mountain will not be easy, Ahmad will have to face many perils. He will have to deal with family and friends trying to discourage him. He will have to deal with internal struggles like self-doubt, fear, and lack of confidence. And he will have to overcome physical challenges too.

Ahmad’s journey will not be easy. Through it, he will learn, grow, and evolve into a better man. Will he accomplish his goal and find what he is looking for? Read the full book to find out!

A Parable

The story is written as a Self Help Parable. Through it, the author hopes to get readers thinking about their own goals and their own challenges. By looking at how Ahmad deals with each challenge along his climb, readers can learn valuable lessons on how to deal with their own obstacles and achieve their own dreams.

Release Date…coming soon

The eBook will be available before the end of August. We will be announcing the launch date very soon. The eBook will be available at Islamic Self Help, Payhip, Gumroad, and Amazon Kindle.

A paperback version of the book is currently in development, but may take much longer to produce. Most likely, it will be released in early 2018, if we find a good publishing partner in time.

Ahmad Climbs a Mountain will be a groundbreaking release for Islamic Self Help, expanding our range of books from self help tips and workbooks into a new realm: Self Help Fiction. Stay tuned for more details coming soon…

Check out Islamic Self Help’s full range of eBooks here.



Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books

Discovering Personal Development

Personal Development

Discovering Personal Development

This is the story about how I discovered Personal Development. It was around the beginning of 2011 that I found myself in a dilemma. I had a really wonderful new job as a TA at the Islamic Online University but was a bit overwhelmed by the workload and found myself dealing with people from cultures which were foreign to me, and thus making a lot of mistakes in my interaction with them. I was reflecting over the situation and trying to think up solutions.

Keep in mind that back then, I was just teaching four courses for IOU and some local Arabic classes for Deen Class, which is nothing compared to my current workload which includes teaching five courses for IOU (which much larger student numbers), being the Head TA at IOU, blogging, writing books, running this website, formulating strategies to attain my goals, lecturing weekly on Radio Al-Ansaar, writing for Al-Ummah Magazine and IOU Insights, and homeschooling my children, Alhamdulillah.

So what happened that helped me make this transition and fill my day with even more projects than I thought was possible? I discovered the joy and excitement of personal development.

It was in early 2011 that I decided, after ten years of almost only studying Islamic material, that it was time to focus on other fields of study. More specifically, to focus on developing habits and skills to help me become more efficient and a better person. This focus on continuously striving for excellence is actually a forgotten Sunnah called Ihsaan, but that is the subject of another post, inshaa Allah.

The first thing I did was read two self-help books which every young person should read, ‘How to win friends and influence people’ by Dale Carnegie and ‘The 7 habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey. In these two books alone, I had learned such life-changing ideas that I became addicted to personal development. So began what is now a life-long journey of personal growth, as every year I find myself discovering things which help me to accomplish more and more on a daily basis.

In the past five years, I have read books and studied courses in Leadership, Inspirational Leadership, Psychology, Management, Social Psychology, Counseling, Educational Theory, Public Speaking and many more fields and every step helps me in my quest to become a better person.

Let me give you just three examples of things I learned that changed my life forever:

1. Scheduling

This is something heavily emphasized as one of the 7 Habits in Stephen Covey’s book and it has become a crucial part of my lifestyle. I have designed a weekly and daily schedule breaking down the day in hourly chunks and scheduling everything from sleep time, to family time, to personal time.

As a result, I am able to utilize every hour of the day in a productive manner, because even getting adequate sleep is productive. It is truly amazing how much time is wasted on movies, video games, surfing the internet, etc if we don’t hold ourselves to a tight schedule. Scheduling is now a permanent part of my lifestyle and something I encourage everybody to do.

2. Delegating

This process was highly emphasized in many books that I read so I decided to give it a try. My website Abumuawiyah.com is a result of delegation. Every aspect from the recording of the MP3s, the editing of the MP3s, the logo design, the website design and the hosting of the website were all done by other than myself. By delegating these tasks to people who are good at them, I was able to focus on other projects while knowing these things are getting done, and professionally too.

Even now, I have many of my important projects delegated to people I trust, thus allowing me to accomplish even more in a day than I thought was possible. Learning to delegate has bought me a lot of time which to me is the most valuable commodity.

3. Speed-listening

I ha’ve already been speed-reading since I was a child, Alhamdulillah. However, in December 2012 at a leadership retreat, life coach Junaid Bayat taught us that if you listen to a lecture at speed 2X (you can do this using VLC Player), you still hear everything clearly, remember everything, and accomplished the task in half the time. I was really excited to learn this so I went straight back to my room to try it out.

The result: I never went back to listening to lectures at normal speed again, and am now able to listen to four hours of lectures in two hours and still benefit from every minute. This is a huge time saver, and has helped me to study twice as much in a day than I previously thought was possible!

The above three are just three examples of the many things I have learned over the past three years. I hope it is enough to get you interested in personal development too. Focusing on constantly improving yourself is a choice you can never regret.

To end, here is a list of some resources to help you get started on personal development. Please feel free to add your own as I am always looking for more resources:

1. Dale Carnegie Training

The books and courses offered by Dale Carnegie institutes are amazing resources for personal growth. I was initially introduced to this institute by my late friend Feroz Ganie. (May Allah reward him for all the good I gained through his suggestion) Although I never attended any of their courses yet, I have benefited greatly from the books published by them, especially ‘How to win friends and influence people’.

2. The books of Stephen Covey, especially ‘The 7 Habit of Highly Effective People’ which is guaranteed lifestyle changer.

3. The books of Mirza Yawar Baig, especially ‘An Entrepreneur’s Diary’, ‘The Business of Family Business’ and ’20.10.2010-55′ (strange name but amazing book).

4. Productive Muslim – This website is an amazing resource for Muslims who want to improve productivity.

5. Mind Tools – another amazing website with many great articles on personal development in multiple fields.

6. Coursera – This website contains hundreds of free courses in every field of study. I usually sign up for a course of interest to me, download all the lectures and listen to them at speed 2X. Thus far, from this website I have studied Inspiration Leadership, Psychology, Public Speaking, Educational Theory and many more interesting courses.

7. Islamic Self Help – Home to my  articles and books all dedicated to sharing my tools and techniques for personal development the Islamic way.

I hope this post convinces you to invest in yourself. Remember that money and time spent on improving ourselves is never wasted, and we always end up profiting multiple times over. Feel free to share your personal stories, tools and resources in the comment section so we too can benefit.

Shaykh Ismail Kamdar is the author of Having Fun the Halal Way, Getting The Barakah, and Best of Creation: an Islamic Guide to Self-Confidence.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Goal Setting, Time Management
10 Time Management Tips for Ramadan – Part 1

10 Time Management Tips for Ramadan – Part 1

Time Management Tips for Ramadan

PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3

The countdown has begun and we have less than one and half months left until the greatest month of the year, Ramadan! I’m sure by now most of you are stock-piling the goodies for iftaar and downloading as many resources as possible for Ramadan preparation but the question remains “How can I manage my time well enough to get it all done?” That is what this series of articles is going to assist you with, inshaa Allah. Without any further intro, let’s jump right into our Time Management Tips for Ramadan:

1. Plan in Advance

Time Management is divided between planning and application. Without adequate planning, there isn’t anything much to apply and the result is another Ramadan that just flies by. Don’t allow this to be such a Ramadan. You have a few weeks to plan this properly, so let’s start working on our plans now.

To plan for Ramadan, we need to be clear regarding the goals (Maqasid) of Ramadan. As per the Qur’an, we know that fasting has been obligated on us to increase our Taqwa (God-consciousness) and that the Qur’an was revealed in Ramadan as a guidance for mankind. (See Surah Al-Baqarah, verses 183 and 185)

This means our overall objective of Ramadan should be an increase in Guidance and Taqwa. Every goal you formulate must work towards these two ends. With this end goal being clear, let’s move on to the next step.

2. Calculate how much Ibaadah time you will have daily

Ideally, we all want to spend Ramadan performing acts of worship 24/7, but this isn’t realistic and most of us have other obligations that we need to take care of as well. As the zeal dies down towards the middle of Ramadan, many people get caught up in their work, family responsibilities and rest, resulting in less Ibaadah (acts of worship) being done than initially desired.

This can be avoided by working out in advance how much time you will have daily for Ibaadah, then setting goals to get that much Ibaadah done minimum daily. The formula is simple: 24 Hours – (Sleep time, Work Time, Family Responsibility) = Ibaadah time.

For example, if you need six hours of sleep daily, work an eight-hour job every day and spent at least an hour helping the children with their homework, add in time for eating Suhoor and Iftaar, time spent in traffic and rest time after eating. The average person can free up between four to six hours a day for Ibaadah in Ramadan. (Makes me wonder why we can’t do the same outside Ramadan)

Let’s work with a smaller number though, as many people have other responsibilities like preparing meals and visiting relatives. Let’s bring it down to a minimum of three hours Ibaadah daily. If you work out that you just have three hours for extra Ibaadah every day in Ramadan, that is still enough time to accomplish some major goals. Multiply three by 29 and you get 87 hours of Ibaadah. 87 hours of optional Ibaadah in one month can transform your life and increase your Taqwa dramatically.

This means if you just schedule in an hour of Qur’an reciting, an hour of studying Islam and an hour for dua and Dhikr, you can really get a lot done if you stick with that for the entire month. This brings us to point number three.

3. Set Clear Goals

Now that you know the overall goals of Ramadan and how much time you have available daily to chase these goals, the next step is to set S.M.A.R.T goals to dedicate this time to. S.M.A.R.T means that the goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Let me give you an example.

If you make it a goal to study some Tafsir this Ramadan, the problem with this goal is that it is too vague (which Tafsir), not measurable (How many pages), and not attainable or realistic (does one page of Tafsir fulfill the goal or five books of Tafsir?)

A S.M.A.R.T goal would be: I want to complete studying this 800-page book of Tafsir this Ramadan. In order to complete 800 pages in 29 days, I need to read an average of 28 pages a day. This goal is:

Specific – It is a specific book of Tafsir you plan to read
Measurable – It is easy to measure and keep track of 28 pages daily
Attainable – It is possible to read 28 pages of Tafsir every day if you dedicate an hour to reading daily
Realistic – The book is at your level so it won’t be too difficult to read
Time-Bound – Ramadan takes care of this naturally as all Ramadan goals are time-bound to 29 days

Set a series of goals like this and you will have a clear concrete plan to follow for the entire month of Ramadan. As for which times of the day to dedicate to each goal, that will be discussed in Part 2 of our tips for Ramadan.

Shaykh Ismail Kamdar is the author of Getting The Barakah: An Islamic Guide to Time Management, available exclusively via Islamic Self Help.

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PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Goal Setting, Time Management