Islam

Understanding the Hudud – An Analogy of a School

Understanding the Hudud – An Analogy of a School

I am often asked why does Islam have some really harsh criminal punishments that are rarely applied. The conditions for applying some of these punishments, like the penalty for adultery, are so strict that it is almost impossible for the punishment to apply in most cases. The question then is what is the point of such laws.

I will use the example of a school and its policies to explain the wisdom behind this concept.

Imagine if there is a school that has a major problem with plagiarism. To curb plagiarism, the school board makes a new school rule: if someone is caught plagiarizing, they will be expelled.

A few weeks later, four students are caught cheating in a test. These students are sent to the principal who decides to suspend two of them for two weeks, and to give the other two detention for two months, due to the differences in their methods of cheating.

Despite the rule being that such students will be expelled, nobody has an issue with the cheaters receiving a lesser punishment. This is because:
1) The principal cares about the students’ education and does not want to ruin that based on a first-time offence
2) The cheaters’ methods did not reach the level of severity to enforce the harshest punishment
3) The cheaters are grateful to receive a lesser punishment, accept their punishment gracefully, and learn their lesson
4) The effect of the policy works, and plagiarism decreases drastically as students do not want to take a chance of getting expelled
5) The rule remains in the books to be applied in worst-case-scenarios, and the principal is willing to apply it if ever needed. Even if the principal never expels anyone based on this policy, it remains part of the law and remains effective.

This is exactly how the Hudud work. Replace principal with Qadhis (judges) and you see how the Qadhi handles cases and hands out lesser punishments (ta’zir) instead of the hudud in most cases.

Allah knows best.

Learn more with our Introduction to Shariah course, available here: https://courses.islamicselfhelp.com/p/shariah

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 0 comments
Four Brutal Facts About This World

Four Brutal Facts About This World

“We test you with evil and with good as trial, and to Us you will be returned.”

Surah Al-Anbiya 21:35

Life is a test, and life hard. There is a trend online to trick people into thinking that life can be whatever you want it to be. They claim that you get what you attract into your life, and that anyone can become wealthy, famous, or successful (in a worldly sense). These online personalities are disconnected from reality and sell people a false vision. The reality is that life is a test, and we are not guaranteed any worldly success. The primary goal of our lives is to earn Allah’s Pleasure and enter into Paradise. Worldly success is secondary and not guaranteed. A good life is a life that is pleasing to Allah, even if it is hard. Here are some brutal facts about life from the Quran and Sunnah:

Life is a Test

It is very clear in the Quran that life is a test. We are here to separate the people of Paradise from the people of Hellfire. This means each soul will have its own personalized tests. The Quran guarantees that life is a test, and that we will all be tested. We should therefore always be ready to handle the tests of life and be patient with whatever tests Allah sends our way.

“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

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth, lives, and fruits. So, give good tidings to the patient.”

Surah Al-Baqarah 2:155

Some tests last a lifetime

There is a misconception that after every trial there will be a period of ease. The reality is that each person’s case is different. Some people face tests that last a lifetime. This could be a war, unjust imprisonment, a chronic illness, or anything else. Not every test ends. Some trials last a lifetime, and the ease only comes in the Afterlife. Patience with such trials however lead to Paradise and can a be cause of forgiveness for all one’s sins.

Ibn Abbas said to me, “Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “This black lady came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, ‘I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.’ The Prophet ﷺ said (to her), ‘If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allah to cure you.’ She said, ‘I will remain patient,’ and added, ‘but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.’ So, he invoked Allah for her.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 5652

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The most privileged people in the world among the people of Hellfire will come on the Day of Resurrection to be dipped in Hellfire, then it will be said: O son of Adam, did you see any good? Did you get any blessing? He will say: No, by Allah, my Lord! Then, the most miserable people in the world among the people of Paradise will come on the Day of Resurrection to be dipped in Paradise, then it will be said: O son of Adam, did you see any hardship? Did you have any distress? He will say: No, by Allah, my Lord! I did not once see hardship or distress.”

Sahih Muslim 2807

Worldly Success is not guaranteed

We are not guaranteed victory in this world. Many righteous people in history did not achieve worldly success. Many were martyred, others spent long periods of time in prison, and many worked towards projects that never materialized in their lifetime. Life is not about the results; it is about the efforts. Do good work for the sake of Allah and try your best. Leave the results to Allah. Only Allah knows what is best for us. Sometimes the humility of hardship may be better for us than the arrogance that may come with success.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Even if the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, let him plant it.”

Musnad Ahmad 12902

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him, and if he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him.”

Sahih Muslim 2999

Every Stage has its own challenges

Some people assume that as they get older, life will get easier. However, each stage of life has its own challenges. The challenges of youth are different from those of young married couples. The challenges of parents of teenagers are different from the challenges of elders. Every face of life has its own trials. We need to be realistic about what life has to offer and focus on excelling in every phase regardless of the challenges that we face.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “If the son of Adam had a valley full of gold, he would want to have two valleys. Nothing fills his mouth but the dust of the grave, yet Allah will relent to whoever repents to Him.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 6439, Sahih Muslim 1048

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.”

Shu’ab al-Iman lil-Bayhaqi 10250

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “There are two blessings which many people waste: health and free time.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 6412

True Success

We must live in this world with realistic expectations. If we live purposeful lives that are pleasing to Allah and focused on the Afterlife, then we can survive any trials and achieve the true success. True success is not a life of luxury and ease. It is not wealth or fame. These are all actually trials that could distract one from true success. True success is eternal Paradise. This is what we seek.

“Those who believe and do righteous deeds will have Gardens beneath which rivers flow. That is the great triumph.”

Surah al-Buruj 85:11
Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam
Islamic Chivalry: Part 1: Work Ethic

Islamic Chivalry: Part 1: Work Ethic

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

This is the first in a series of articles on Islamic chivalry. During my research on Islamic masculinity, I discovered that most classical works on this topic focused on futuwwah (chivalry) instead. Imam Dawud Walid defines futuwwah as follows:

Futuwwah cannot be simply defined operationally speaking, as although it is loosely translated as spiritual, chivalry in the English language is defined as characteristics of a distinguished gentleman or a knight who displays courage, honour, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak.

Futuwwah and Raising Males into Sacred Manhood, Dawud Walid, p. 1

For sake of ease, we will use the English term chivalry interchangeably with futuwwah in this series. Over the past few months, I have compiled a list of over 100 qualities of futuwwah from classical Islamic texts. I am currently organizing these traits into subcategories and will publish each category as a article here.

This first article focuses on traits related to work ethic. In an age of materialism and get-rich-quick-schemes, the importance of having a strong work ethic has been lost. The 10 principles listed below are core Islamic principles related to developing a strong work ethic. Each principle has been listed with one evidence from the Qur’an or Sunnah. There are in reality dozens of evidences for each of these points.

Know that your Sustenance is from Allah

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Be moderate in seeking from the world, for everyone will be facilitated towards what has been decreed for him in it.”

Bayhaqi 10501, Grade: Sahih

Rizq (sustenance) is already destined by Allah. He has already written the amount that each servant will earn per day, month, year, and overall lifespan. There is nothing we can do to change this amount. Our actions simply affect whether our sustenance is blessed or cursed. The means of attaining our sustenance is in our control. If we seek it through prohibited means, it will testify against us on the Last Day. If we seek it through permitted means and spend it in a way that is pleasing to Allah, then it will testify for us on the Last Day.

A Muslim man should avoid stressing about wealth and the future. He should accept that his destiny is already written and should focus instead on earning barakah (blessings) in his sustenance. By freeing up the heart from anxiety about the future, we make space for the remembrance of Allah and preparation for the Afterlife.

Work hard for your sustenance anyway

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ “Verily, the most wholesome food a man can eat is that which he has earned.”

Nasa’i 4397, Grade: Sahih

Our sustenance is written but nobody knows the unseen besides Allah. We are still required to work for our sustenance, just as the birds leave their nests seeking it every morning. The Muslim man is obligated to seek out his sustenance in a halal manner so that he can fulfill his role as provider and protector of his family.

Working hard is part of Ihsan (aspiring for excellence) and a noble trait. A Muslim man works hard, even though he knows that his sustenance is destined, because it is part of manliness and good character. A hardworking man is a strong asset to the ummah and earns a good reputation among others. His hard work can be an act of worship when it is done in a way that is pleasing to Allah and within the boundaries set by Allah.

Have firm tawakul and trust Allah’s plan

“Whoever fears Allah, He will make a way out for him and provide for him from where he never imagined. And whoever has tawakul in Allah, He is enough for him.”

Quran 65:2-3

A believer must firmly acknowledge that Allah knows best. Allah’s plan is best for us even when we cannot see the benefit in our current situation. Like Jonah in the belly of the whale, and Joseph at the bottom of the well, we must turn to Allah and trust Allah’s plan for us. The believer maintains full optimism in Allah regarding his future, knowing that whatever happens to him is best for him.

We have published a detailed guide to tawakul in the past, you can read it here. To summarize, tawakul means to believe, acknowledge, trust, and ask of Allah, while working hard and being content at the end of each day. This is part of the character of the Muslim that every believer should strive for.

Ask only of Allah and seek only from Allah

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Young man, I will teach you some words. Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him before you. If you ask, ask from Allah. If you seek help, seek help from Allah.”

Tirmidhī 2516, Grade: Sahih

Although it is permitted to ask people for assistance in matters that they can help with, it is part of higher Islamic character to ask only Allah and seek assistance only from Allah. Some of the pious predecessors were so staunch on this point that even if they dropped a stick while riding a horse, they would rather get off and pick it up, than ask someone for help.

When we ask people for help often, it lowers our value in their eyes. They start to look at such a person as a burden to society and a beggar. But Allah loves when we ask and never tires of giving. Part of chivalry is to avoid asking people for assistance, and to rely on Allah entirely. A result of this is that Allah will send such people into your life that will assist you anyway, and you will maintain your dignity in the process.

Avoid shortcuts and shady transactions

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Make between yourself and the unlawful a buffer of what is lawful. Whoever does so will clear himself in regard to his honor and his religion.”

Ibn Hibban 5569, Grade: Sahih

The modern trend of seeking get-rich-quick schemes is unislamic. Hastiness is a devilish quality that will seduce a person to seek shortcuts on the path to riches. Such a man will be tempted to engage in clear prohibitions like usury and selling prohibited products, or to take shady shortcuts through false advertising and mistreatment of employees.

A Muslim is firm in his belief that whatever Allah has written for him will reach him. With this firm faith, he works hard, takes his time, and stays within the boundaries of permissibility. He knows that nothing will miss him that was meant for him, so he focuses on the quality of his work, and turns away from all sources of temptation.

Be content with your sustenance

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah tests His servant by giving to him. Whoever is content with what Allah has apportioned for him, Allah will bless him in it and expand it. Whoever is not content, he will not be blessed in it.”

Musnad Imam Ahmad 20279, Grade: Sahih

Greed leads to decrease in blessings, while contentment and gratitude lead to increase in blessings. Every day, the Muslim man works hard to provide for his family. At the end of each day, he is content with his sustenance for the day and thanks Allah for it. This contentment allows him to focus on worshiping Allah, contributing to the ummah, and spending time with his family.

Anxiety about wealth and profits distract a man from the worship of Allah. Greed for a second mountain of gold turns into obsession. A greedy man is never satisfied, and his mind is so preoccupied with the pursuit of wealth that he fails to prioritize anything else. The believer avoids this trial by working hard during work hours, then devoting the rest of his time to worship, rest, community, and family. Balance and contentment are far more precious than a second mountain of gold.

Be happy for others when they do well

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Be servants of Allah as brothers. Do not be hostile to each other and do not hate each other. Follow the right course, seek nearness to Allah in worship, and give glad tidings.”

Musnad Imam Ahmad 9763, Grade: Sahih

A believer loves for others what we loves for himself. He is happy when someone else succeeds in the workplace. He wants to see his brothers thrive, just as he wants to thrive. He is not hostile or resentful to the success of others. He was internalized the principle of brotherly love and it shows in his interactions with other Muslims.

Avoid jealousy for what others have

The Prophet ﷺ said, “The people will remain upon goodness as long as they do not envy each other.”

Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabir 8079, Grade: Hasan

When brotherly love is absent from the heart, jealousy and envy can consume it. Envy destroys the soul and the ability to do good, like a fire eating away inside a person. It was jealousy that caused Cain to kill Abel. It was jealousy that caused Abu Jahl to reject Islam. It is jealousy that can ruin us if we allow it to enter our hearts.

A Muslim trader strives to avoid jealousy always. He is waging an internal Jihad against devil and his own soul. He prioritizes Muslim brotherhood, and genuinely loves his brothers wanting good for them. In light of this brotherly love, he rejects jealousy and any negative feelings towards his brothers in Islam.

Be generous in the marketplace and spend for the sake of Allah

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah Almighty will admit a man into Paradise who was easy in his buying and selling, in his paying debts and seeking repayments.”

Nasa’i 4696, Grade: Sahih

A Muslim trader wants to see everyone succeed. He will buy from another to give him business. He will forgive a debt because he sees that his brother is genuinely struggling. In the spirit of Islamic brotherhood, he might lower his prices for the poor, support a struggling business, overlook the faults of his customers, and rush to pay off his own debts.

His concern for the ummah takes precedence over his own desires. He does not wish to see any member of the ummah struggle, so he forgives, overlooks, goes easy on others, and is lenient in his dealings. His reputation is one of honesty, integrity, and genuine selflessness. Such a trader is a role model of Islamic chivalry.

Laziness is an unmanly trait and must be shunned

The Prophet ﷺ said, “O Allah, I seek refuge in You from anxiety, sorrow, disability, laziness, cowardice, miserliness, the burdens of debt, and the repression of men.”

Bukhari 6369

Islam is a religion of submission and struggle. Men are expected to take up the responsibility of moving the ummah forward. There is no room for laziness in this cause. Muslim men must be men of action. They must work hard, striving to provide for their families and protect their communities. They must contribute to the overall wellbeing of the ummah in some way or another.

Laziness is a quality unbefitting a Muslim man. The prophets, companions, and righteous men of the past were all hardworking individuals, and the Prophet ﷺ even taught us to pray for protection from laziness. When men are lazy and self-centered, it affects the entire society. For a boy to become a man, he must shun laziness and develop a strong work ethic.

Learn more about the Islamic perspective on wealth and blessings with our hit ebook Earning Barakah, available here.

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Leadership
The Legacy of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA)

The Legacy of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA)

Q: Why did you choose ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) as the topic of your book?

I have always been fascinated by the story of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA). He has been a role model of mine since I was a teenager. There is just something extraordinary about his story that makes him stand out among other historical figures. He stands out from among the Tābiʿīn (second generation of Muslims) as the best Caliph of that generation, as well as one of the most pious and knowledgeable men of that era. He played a crucial role in shaping Islamic government policies, preserving hadith, and spreading Islam to new lands. Yet despite all this, most Muslims that I meet have never heard about him. His amazing story remains unknown to the average Muslim and I wanted to change that with this book.

I had the idea to write a book about his life over a decade ago, but did not get down to doing so. A few years ago, I delivered a Jumah Khutbah on lessons from the life of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) and it was very well received. This motivated me to go back to the topic, and I realized it was time to finally sit down and write this book. Thus, I dedicated the bulk of 2019 to writing, researching, editing and publishing this book.

Q: Can you give us a brief glimpse into who ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) was and why his story is important?

Sure, ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) was the eight Umayyad Caliph. On his father’s side, he was the grandson of Marwan Ibn Hakam (RA), and on his mother’s side, he was the great-grandson of ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (R.A). He grew up in Madinah under the tutelage of his grand-uncle ʿAbdullah Ibn ʿUmar (RA), and the great scholars of Madinah. He served as the governor of Madinah during the reign of his cousin/brother-in-law Walīd Ibn Abd al-Malik(RA), and as Grand Vizier during the reign of his Walīd’s brother Suleiman (RA).

After the death of Suleiman (RA), ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) became the eight Umayyad Caliph. Historians often refer to his as ʿUmar II (ʿUmar The Second) as he was the second ʿUmar to serve as Caliph, thus the title of the book, Productivity Principles of ʿUmar II. During his reign, he reformed many of unjust policies of early Umayyads, and attempted to bring the Caliphate back in line with that of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. He played a crucial role in reforming various policies, and setting new standards for the Islamic Empire, earning him titles like the Fifth Rightly Guided Caliph and the First Reviver of Islam. ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) served as Caliph for only two and half years before he was poisoned by his cousins, and murdered. May Allah grant him the best of the Afterlife.

Q: As a follow up to that, why do you think many Muslims are unaware of the story of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA), when he played such an important role in early Islamic History?

I think it boils down to a common problem in our Islamic History curriculum. Too many Muslim schools focus only on the history of the first generation of Muslims. We study intensively the lives of the Prophet (pbuh) and the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs which is great and crucial. But we make the mistake of stopping there. Too often, the rest of history is summarized in a few short lines (Umayyads, then Abbasids, then Ottomans) without going into any details. As a result, the stories of many great people from our history remain unknown or forgotten to all except those who are truly passionate about history and seek the knowledge out themselves.

When I first published this book, many people asked me who ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) was and why they never heard about him before. Many of these were people who are generally knowledgeable about Islam, yet have a gap when it comes to Islamic History. These conversations made me realize how crucial it is to write about these figures, and share their stories with new generations. From all major Islamic subjects, history is often the most overlooked today and I try to fill that gap with my lectures and writings.

A wrong understanding of history can cause many doubts and unrealistic expectations. This is why my book is prefaced with an extended introduction focused on how to approach and study history, as well as a summarized history of the first century of the Muslim Empire. I hope that this book will contribute towards making ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) a household name and a role model for Muslims everywhere once again.

Q: What is your favorite story from the life of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA)?

There are honestly too many to list, but I will mention briefly the one story that always blows me away, it is actually the story of the events that led to his birth. This story actually takes place in the Caliphate of ʿUmar I (RA).

When ʿUmar I was caliph, he had a habit of going around at night in disguise to see if anybody needed help. One night, he overheard a conversation between a young lady and her mother. The mother was telling her daughter to mix milk with water and sell it in the market. Her daughter reminded her that Caliph ʿUmar had prohibited such practices. The mother said, “ʿUmar cannot see you.” To which the daughter replied, “But the Lord of ʿUmar can.” ʿUmar was so impressed by this reply that he asked his servant to find out who that young lady was.

When he learned more about her, he approached her with an offer to marry his son ʿĀṣim. She accepted the offer, and they married. It is narrated that later ʿUmar had a dream, after which he used to say, “I wish I knew the man from my descendants, with a scar on his face, who will fill the earth with justice, just as it was full of injustice and oppression.” Many Muslim historians claim that the just ruler ʿUmar saw in his dream was actually ʿUmar II.

It really blows my mind every time I think about how destiny worked through this story, a great Caliph finds a righteous wife for his son, hoping that from their progeny would arise a just ruler. That couple has a daughter who married the prince ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Ibn Marwan (RA), and their son ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) grows into one of the most just rulers in the history of this world.

Q: That is amazing. I actually never heard that story before. What were some of the policies of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) that stand out?

Once again, there are too many to count, and I discuss these in various sections of the book. I will list my three favorite policies of his. The first is that he removed various taxes from the early Umayyads had unjustly levied on converts. These unjust taxes were discouraging people from converting to Islam, and by removing them, he opened the door for hundreds of thousands of converts to enter Islam. He famously told his governors “Allah did not send his messenger as a tax collector, He sent him as a Mercy to his universe.” His entire mindset towards taxes can be summarized in this one statement.

Another important policy of his was increasing the salaries for Islamic scholars. His cousin Walid (RA) was the first to establish a policy of a state salary for Islamic scholars, so they could focus on their Islamic work without needing to worry about finances. ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) took it one step further and increased the salary to a comfortable amount, which in turn encouraged many youngsters to choose Islamic Studies for their careers. This led to a new generation of financially strong intelligent and capable Islamic scholars.

A third policy of his that is very important, so important that I dedicated an entire chapter to it is his emphasis on Shura (seeking expert advice). ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) revived the Sunnah of a ruler surrounding himself with experts and pious scholars. He sought their opinions on all major policies, and would humbly listen to their perspectives. This incredible policy led to many of the important reforms that took place during his reign. ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) famously said, “The heart of Islamic Law is adherence to what you find in the Book of God, the issuing of rulings based on the example set by the Messenger of God as well as the judgments handed down by the Rightly-Guided leaders, and consultation with the learned whose points of view can be trusted.”

Q: What can readers expect from the book in terms of format, themes, and core lessons?

The book is divided into four broad sections: introduction, history, productivity principles, and appendices. The introduction is a bit lengthy yet many readers say it is their favorite part of the book. In this introduction, I clarify the correct approach to studying history, as well as some of the reasons readers often experience a disconnect with history. This is very crucial information that not only sets the tone for the book, but will also assist the reader in studying other history books and courses effectively.

The second section consists of two chapters focused on the history of the first century of Islam. The first chapter covers the history of Islam from the time of the Prophet (pbuh) until the reign of Suleiman (RA). This is crucial for understanding the context and significance of the reign of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA). The second chapter is a detailed history of the life of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) from birth until death. The rest of the book builds upon these two chapters by deriving and explaining various lessons from his life.

The next fifteen chapters cover fifteen lessons that I learned from studying his life. I called these the Productivity Principles of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA), and the book is named after these chapters that form the core of the book. Each chapter takes some stories and quotations from his life and discusses with practical details some lessons we can derive from the stories and apply to our own lives. These principles are crucial for living a productive life that is beneficial for us in this world and the Hereafter. The book ends with two short a appendices covering various issues and quotes that did not fit into the three main sections.

Q: Why focus on productivity in a history book? How did you link the two topics together?

The focus on productivity perplexed many early readers, and some were skeptical about how these lessons could be derived from a history book. However, once they read the book, they understood well and were blown away by how relevant this story really is. ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (RA) lived for only 37 years, and was a Caliph for only 2 and half years, yet he accomplished far more during this short period than seems humanly possible. Part of this is a miracle of barakah (blessings) that Allah gifts to the righteous, but a lot of it has to do with how he lived his life.

I decided to spend some time analyzing his life for clues on what made him so productive. Initially, I had a list of eight principles and started writing the book accordingly. But as I wrote, researched further, and reflected deeper, I discovered more and more lessons, resulting in a book covering fifteen productivity principles that I extracted from his life.

A mistake we often make is that we study history only for the facts. We fail to engage with history and draw lessons from it. I hope this book serves as an example of how to engage with history, draw lessons from it, and apply those lessons to one’s life. The six months I spent writing this book were the best months of my life, and one of my favorite memories. I thoroughly enjoyed engaging with history, reflecting on it, and writing my observations. I hope the reader finds reading this book as enjoyable as I found writing it.

Q: Where can people find your book, and why should they read it.

The book is available to purchase as a PDF via Gumroad and Payhip. The paperback and Kindle editions are available via Amazon. There are also several bookstores around the world (South Africa, Australia, India, UAE, Malaysia) that currently stock the book, and hopefully many more will stock it in the future. I am optimistic that this book will benefit everyone who reads it, and will serve as a model on how to study and draw lessons from the biographies of historical figures.

The benefits for the readers are many. On one hand, it is a beautiful summary of the first century of Muslim history, drawing many lessons from it. On the other, it is a deep dive into fifteen productivity principles that are very practical and life-changing. This book serves as both a history book and a guide to productive living. I cannot recommend it enough, and hope you enjoy it and benefit from it.

You can purchase the ebook here, or the paperback here. The book is also available at several bookstores around the world. For best value, check out our Barakah Bundle which includes this book and FOUR other bestsellers.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books
7 Keys to Contentment

7 Keys to Contentment

True wealth is not in having many possessions, but rather (true) wealth is feeling content in the soul.

Sahih al-Bukhari 6446

In a world too caught up in chasing its own tail, humanity desperately craves something deeper. Amassing wealth is no longer a satisfying goal in life. To some extent, it is necessary for comfort and success, but it does not fulfill every need of the human soul. The need for a greater purpose, and spiritual connection with the Creator, cannot be gained through a life spent in the pursuit of wealth and status. True wealth lies in contentment, a feeling of inner peace with everything God has blessed you with.

True contentment is the sweet spot between apathy and greed. A sincere believer is not lazy in earning an income or providing for the family, but neither is he greedy for everything this world has to offer. He works hard to earn that which is pure, to gain blessed sustenance, and then he is content at the end of each day with what God has blessed him with for that day.

But how do we experience contentment?
What can we do to unlock this powerful and satisfying feeling?

The following steps bring contentment into one’s life, and in the process upgrade the quality of one’s life and mental health in amazing ways.

1. Living for a greater purpose

We were not created to waste life on lustful pursuits. The human soul was designed for a much deeper experience. Allah created us to worship Him i.e. to live a life that is pleasing to Him. It is in the pleasure of Allah that the greatest of joy is experienced.

Those who believe, and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of God. Indeed, it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find comfort.

Surah al-Rad 13:28

True comfort of the soul can only be experienced when one’s lifestyle is aligned with the Divine Purpose. It is only when our focus is on pleasing the Creator, and living an Islamic lifestyle that we can begin to taste the sweet fruit of faith. Contentment is a gift to those who live with purpose.

2. Practicing Daily Gratitude

And when your Lord proclaimed: “If you are grateful, I will grant you more; but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.”

Surah Ibrahim 14:7

Allah’s promise is clear and true. The secrets of success are unlocked through a lifestyle of gratitude. It is only when we begin to appreciate the little things in life, the small bounties that we take for granted, that we begin to experience contentment. There is so much that we take for granted in our pursuit of more. But if we were to stop and take time to thank Allah saying Alhamdulillah (All Praise is for Allah) at every little gift, we will attract a higher level of blessings and inner peace into our lives. I discuss this concept in more detail in my latest ebook; Earning Barakah.

3. Keeping one’s earnings pure

It is tempting to take shortcuts, to chase the get-rich-quick scheme, to harm others in the pursuit of more. But any wealth earned in such a manner is devoid of blessings. It is a cursed wealth ruined by bad intentions, ill means, and harmful greed. Even if someone was to amass millions in unlawful gains, they will never taste the sweetness of contentment. Every mountain of gold will only make them desire another.

Blessings come from purity, and purity comes from halal earnings. It is only when we make a firm effort to earn halal, even if it is less, that we unlock blessed sustenance. Blessed sustenance is not necessarily a lot of wealth, or a thriving business. It is any sustenance that suffices the family, and brings one closer to the Creator. The most blessed sustenance of all is contentment.

4. Serving the community

The soul longs for more than just material wealth. Our souls are social in nature, and need to be part of a community. That feeling is not just to belong, but to serve as well. Modern psychology studies have shown that community service cures many forms of depression and loneliness. This is because we tap into the part of our soul that needs to serve.

If the pursuit of this world has left you cold and lonely, then maybe it is time to shift one’s paradigm from consumption to service. When we give back to society, we attract blessings and inner peace into our lives. Taking care of the creation pleases the Creator and opens new doors of blessings. A simple step of taking out time once a week to help others can have a profound impact on one’s mental health, and help build an atmosphere of contentment.

5. Living within one’s means

The need to live large is a lie. We do not need fancy homes, cars, or luxury furniture to be happy. If they are within one’s budget, then there is no sin in indulging, but then too precaution is needed. One of the biggest problems of modern life is that too many of us live off credit cards and loans, convinced that we need that fancy new gadget now, and will figure out a way to pay for it later.

It is very difficult to sleep peacefully at night, when your brain keeps reminding you that you still owe thousands of dollars to others. The guilt and anxiety that a debt-based lifestyle brings wipes away any hope in experiencing contentment and inner peace. The solution then is simply; reduce debt to only that which is necessary. Some debt is unavoidable, but too often we choose to indulge in that which we cannot afford. Yet if we choose to live within our means, we will build a far more relaxed and happy home.

6. Being Afterlife-focused

This world is an illusion, and one day we all will leave it. The pandemic has shown us how short life truly is, and many who used to read this blog a year ago are not gone. Every one of us will one day experience death and return to our Creator. On that day, the wealth we amassed will hold no value. Allah will ask us two things about it, how it was earned and how it was spent. Our focus must be on earning and spending in ways that will reflect positively on the Last Day.

Instead of focusing entirely on wealth-building for this world, we should also put aside some time, money or effort for building the next world. These should be invested in sources of continuous reward (al-thawab al-jariyah) that will pile up good deeds for us long after we have passed away. Contentment comes from knowing you have invested more in one’s Afterlife than in one’s worldly life. My latest book contains an entire chapter on how to build sources of continious reward, get it here.

When the human being dies, his deeds end except for three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him.

Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1631

7. Trusting God’s Plan

The final step is simply to trust the Creator and His Plan for you. The concept of Tawakul (trusting God) is central to Islamic Spirituality. I have written many articles about this concept in the past. It is crucial for maintaining contentment and inner peace in this world.

A life of tawakul means a life of working hard, while trusting God’s Plan, and accepting the results of one’s efforts as what is best for you. It means living life with a strong wroth ethic, combined with inner peace and contentment. When you trust Allah, you will never be disappointed. Allah’s plan is best and that is enough for us.

Whoever is conscious of Allah, He will make a way out for him. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose.

Surah al-Talaq 65:2-3

To gain a deeper spiritual connection with blessed sustenance, check out our latest ebook “Earning Barakah” available here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Inner Peace