The Nature of This Worldly Life

The Nature of This Worldly Life

This article is an extract from my 2015 book on Self-Confidence. The book has been published under three different names over the past six years including Best Of Creation, Self-Confidence, and Self-Confidence: The Islamic Way. In light of current world events, I wanted to share this chapter for free due to its relevance to our times.

Many of us are afraid of this world. We don’t understand it and fear what it might bring tomorrow. This fear cripples us and makes us retreat into our own bubbles. We avoid taking risks, trying new things or going to new places out of fear of what could go wrong, thinking it is safer to stay at home and avoid the world.

But avoiding problems is not possible, even if you enclose yourself in a tiny bubble. Becoming confident enough to chase your goals requires coming to terms with the nature of this world.

There are few things about this world that we all need to embrace and understand in order to move forward.

The first is to understand the purpose of this world. In the previous chapter, we learned that Allah created us to worship Him. Now let us reflect on why He created this world.

This is summarized beautifully in Surah Al-Kahf in which Allah says;

“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 verse summarizes four important qualities about this world all of which are relevant to this topic i.e. that this world is beautiful, a test, changing and temporary.

The Test of the Beauty of this world

There are many places in the Qur’an in which Allah uses the word beauty to describe this world, and it truly is beautiful. There are many types of beauty in this world, including pure beauty, deceptive beauty and tempting beauty.

Pure beauty refers to the Halal and beneficial things of this world like Halal wealth, children, a beautiful spouse, a beautiful home or nature in general. These are things which Allah created and made beautiful for the believers to enjoy. The test in these cases is to thank Allah for these gifts and not allow them to distract us from obeying Him.

Regarding this, Allah warns us:

Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight, are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard in His Cause , then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). And Allah does not guide a rebellious people.

Surah At-Tawba 10:24

All of the things listed in this verse are Halal and good things. Yet, loving any of them more than Allah and His Messenger is problematic as it corrupts our intentions and goals, and it diverts us from the purpose of life. In this way, the good things in our life are a test.

Deceptive beauty refers to the evils of this world that are disguised as beautiful. The modern marketing industry is famous for this. It packages all forms of sin as good and beautiful and this leads many people down the wrong path towards self-harm and destruction. The test here is to recognize the evil hidden underneath the layers of beautiful wrapping and to avoid it as much as possible. Do not fall for the devil’s deception, as it will lead you down a part to darkness.

Allah warns us about this and says:

And I have appointed for them companions (from among the devils) who made their past and future sins seem attractive.

Surah Al-Fussilat 41:25

The worldly life has been beautified for those who disbelieve, and they mock the believers. But those who believe will rise above them on the Day of Resurrection, and Allah provides for whom He wills without restrictions.

Surah Al-Baqarah 2:212

Tempting beauty are things of this world which are indeed beautiful, but their beauty might be so overpowering that people are willing to violate the laws of Allah to have it. The two most common scenarios are women and wealth. Men are tempted to have beautiful women, and many do not have the confidence to do it the right way by marrying them and treating them equally, so they go down the path of evil to get what they want.

Likewise, people desire wealth and many don’t have the patience and trust in Allah to earn it the Halal way, so they take Haram shortcuts like dealing with Riba (Interest); and they end up with cursed wealth devoid of any blessings.

Yes, this world is beautiful but in this is a test for mankind. We are to enjoy the pure beauty of this world moderately, and to be patient with the prohibited. This patience will lead to even greater and more beautiful things in Paradise.

Allah says about this:

For mankind, (Allah has) beautified a strong love and desire for women, children, heaps of gold and silver, fine branded horses, cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of the worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.

Say: Shall I inform you of something better than that? For those who fear Allah will be gardens in the presence of their Lord, beneath which rivers flow. They will dwell therein forever, and have purified spouses and Allah’s pleasure. And Allah is All-Seeing over His Servants.

Surah Aal-Imraan 3:14-15

The World is a Test

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

It is not only the beauty of this world that tests and tempts us. Everything in this world is a test. Just as good things are a test of gratitude, difficulties too are a test from Allah. In order to build our confidence, we have to accept the world the way it is. The world is not perfect, just like we are not perfect.

The world has beauty but it also has difficulties. Difficulties are a fact of life that every human must face and deal with. Nobody can go through this world without facing some kind of difficulty at one point or another. Running away or hiding in your home will not chase away the tests of life, rather it will bring the tests into your home.

We must understand that this world is a testing ground and we cannot escape that. This means whether we go out and live life, or stay at home afraid, either way tests will come our way. So why stay at home then? There is so much to do in this world. So much good that we can do. So many lives that we can touch. So many ways in which we can make this world a better place.

Yes, there will be trials along the way. This is the nature of the world. Life goes through cycles, we will have good times and we will have bad times. Utilize the good times to maximize your efforts and push on through the bad times too as they too will end sooner or later. Reality is that we can’t change the way the world is, we can just change how we approach and deal with the world. Allah has blessed us all with great skills and talents, use those skills to help His Creation and make this world a better place. That is how we can be among those who are best in their deeds.

The Temporary Nature of this world

And do not call on another god with Allah. There is no god except Him. Everything will be destroyed except His Face. His is the judgement, and to Him you will be returned.

Surah Al-Qasas 28:88

Everyone upon the earth will perish, and there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honour. So which of the favours of your Lord would you deny?

Surah Ar-Rahman 55:26-28

This world will end, and our time in this world will probably end long before that. This is reality, and we must embrace it in order to stop fearing the unknown. Accepting that this world will end means accepting that it is constantly changing and that nothing we have will last forever.

Many people live frightened lives because they are afraid of change. The idea of anything in their life changing terrifies them and as a result, they are always anxious and disappointed because change is guaranteed to affect each and every one of us.

We change, our spouses change, our children change, our economies change, periods of peace and war interchange, presidents change, technology changes, careers and jobs change, nothing is guaranteed to remain in one constant state forever.

Change doesn’t have to be something bad. Change is what you make of it. In the 13th year of prophethood, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions were forced into exile and had to flee to Madinah, leaving behind their home town, families and possessions. This was a drastic change and one that could have been perceived very negatively.

Yet, the Prophet (peace be upon him) embraced this change as a part of Allah’s place for him, and looked for ways to make it a positive change. He saw it as an opportunity to build a Muslim community and with much effort, Madinah became the first Islamic State and his new home. It remained his home even after Makkah was conquered, and it remains the most beloved place to Muslims in the world, even today 1400 years later.

In this story, the situation of the Muslims changed many times. From being an oppressed minority, to being in exile, to migrating to a new land, to establishing an Islamic State, to going to war against the aggressors, to peace treaties and finally to victory and conquest. In these 10 years, the only thing that was constant was change. Yet each change was embraced as something positive that will lead to a greater good. As a result, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions accomplished more in two decades than many do in a lifetime.

Around a century later, another great figure had to embrace change when Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz, the governor of Madinah, was removed from his position and forced to move to Damascus. Umar was very sad to leave the beloved city and move to a more materialistic location but he accepted it as Allah’s destiny for him and embraced the change.

Within a few years of moving the Damascus, the centre of the Caliphate at that time, Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz found himself embracing another change. He was declared the new Caliph on the order of his dying cousin, King Sulaiman Ibn Abdul Malik and became one of the greatest rulers the world has ever seen. Had he not embraced the change of moving to Damascus, he might not have become the Caliph.

History has proven many times that every time someone embraced a change that Allah sent into their lives, it led to amazing things that the person never imagined. This is why change is not something to be feared, it is simply something to be accepted as a part of life that everybody experiences.

For whatever is in your capacity to control, make sure the changes are positive. For whatever is outside your control, accept that Allah knows what is best for you and embrace the changes in your life as new opportunities.

Accepting the temporary nature of this world also makes us work for a higher purpose. We will all leave this world one day, so why do we make it our biggest concern?

What we should really be concerned with is our Afterlife. Yes, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the Halal things of this world but they should not distract us from our purpose.

Compared to Paradise, the things of this world are worthless. Whenever there is a clash between what we want in this world and pleasure of Allah, always choose the latter.

Focusing on the Afterlife also helps us get through difficult times. We understand that nothing in this world lasts forever.  Good times won’t last, enjoy them and be grateful to them. Bad times won’t last, push through them hoping to be rewarded in the Afterlife for your patience.

Focus on the Afterlife and don’t make the problems of this world your main focus. Enjoy the good that Allah sends you, and don’t forget to thank Him for it.

Pursue goals that will make this world a better place and that will count on your scale of good deeds on the Last Day. And take the bad days as they come as simply another test and opportunity for growth. After all, if we don’t have bad days, we wouldn’t appreciate the good days.

You Can Do It

Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, do not burden us with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.”

Surah Al-Baqarah 2:286

This is the promise of Allah and it should keep us strong during difficult times. Understand that if Allah has sent a specific test into your life, it is because you have the capabilities to deal with it and pass it.

Allah would not have given you that specific test unless you were the right person to deal with it and overcome it. Remind yourself of this verse every time you are in a jam. There is no test in your life that you don’t have the ability to pass, and every human has been given the capabilities to be successful in both worlds.

Reflecting on this verse should give you confidence in your ability to overcome your current predicament. Allah chose you for it, because you have what it takes to deal with it, even if you haven’t discovered that yet. This belief should empower us to dig down deep and do our best in every situation.

The Win/Win Formula

The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something good befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something harmful befalls him, he is patient and that is good for him

Saheeh Muslim 2999

This Hadith is very powerful in helping us embrace this world with all its flaws. As believers, we must look at everything that happens to us as something good. When things go our way, it is a gift from Allah and we should be grateful to Him for it, and this is good for us in both worlds.

When things don’t go our way, we must be patient, solution-focused and ready to learn some life lessons through the experience, and that too is good for us in both worlds.

This means whatever happens to us in life is good for us, so why fear living. Go out there and make every day count. Be the best you can be. Accomplish whatever you can and be ready to face any setbacks or trials along the way.

There is no reason to avoid our duties and goals out of fear. Doing so won’t hold back the tests but it will hold you back from accomplishing anything worthwhile.

Allah created this world to test us. We are tested with good and with difficulties too. Things are always changing and nothing in this world is constant or eternal. Embrace the nature of this world and you will live a happier life and be able to accomplish more. Do not fear trials, failure or death. These are all natural parts of our experience in this world and unavoidable. Live each day as if it is your last, but make your plans for doing good deeds being optimistic that you will live a long time. Even if you pass away before accomplishing all your goals, Allah will accept your noble intentions and might even use others to accomplish your goals for you.

A Word about Death

“Remember often the destroyer of pleasures,” Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him”

Ibn Majah 4258

Fear of death holds many of us back from doing anything. We fear our own deaths and the deaths of our loved ones. This fear is good if it stops us from doing foolish things that risk our lives like driving recklessly and consuming intoxicants. However, too many of us use it as an excuse to hold ourselves or our families back from doing good deeds.

Death is inevitable. Everybody you know will leave this world one day, as will you. There is nothing we can do to change that. Most likely, everybody you know will not be on this earth in a hundred years’ time and an entirely different generation will populate this earth. Fearing death is not going to change that or stop it from happening. The fact is that every human experiences the death of loved ones multiple times in his/her lifetime, unless that person died at a young age.

As there is no escaping death, we have to embrace it as a part of life. Eventually, we all will leave this world and when our time is up, it doesn’t matter whether we are out trying to make this world a better place, or cowering at home, either way we will have to face reality.

Remember that nobody has control over when they die, but we do choose how we live, so live!

Don’t be dead inside while your body is alive. Live your life and do whatever you can to leave this world a better place than you found it. Live such a life that when death comes, you are pleased to meet your Lord and He is pleased to meet you. You can’t escape death but you can turn it into a beautiful transition from this world into somewhere better.

[To the righteous it will be said], “Oh soul that is at peace, Return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him], so enter among My [righteous] servants And enter My Paradise.”

Surah Al-Fajr 89:27-30

To read the full ebook, get your copy here or for the best value, grab our Self Help Starter Pack here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Self Confidence, 0 comments
The upbringing of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz

The upbringing of ʿUmar bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz

This article is made up of selected passages from my latest book; Productivity Principles Of ʿUmar II. To learn more about this book, click here.

Family Background

ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, aka ʿUmar II, was a descendant of the Umayyads on his father’s side and a descendant of ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb on his mother’s side. He was named after his maternal great grandfather.

On his father’s side, he was ʿUmar, son of ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, son of Marwān, son of al- Ḥakam, son of Abī al-ʿĀṣ, son of Umayyah.[1] King ʿAbd al-Mālik was his father’s brother, and that made Walīd and Sulaimān his first cousins.

On his mother’s side, he was ʿUmar, son of Layla, daughter of ʿĀṣim, son of ʿUmar, son of al-Khaṭṭāb. The story of how his grandparents met is often retold in Muslim circles due to its mythical and mysterious nature. 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 got 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, [2] who will fill the earth with justice, just as it was full of injustice and oppression.”[3] Many Muslim historians claim that the just ruler ʿUmar saw in his dream was actually ʿUmar II.

How he was raised

Greatness does not occur in a vacuum. Great people are often the products of extraordinary parenting, and the parents of ʿUmar II were extraordinary.

In this section, I will focus primarily on ʿUmar’s mother Layla and how she raised him. The reason for this is twofold: First, as a governor, ʿUmar’s father was very busy running the province, therefore there are fewer narrations about the role he played in his son’s life. As a result, most stories are about ʿUmar’s mother and the choices she made. Secondly, we live in a time in which motherhood is often demeaned and overlooked. Women are taught to choose careers and money over children and parenting, and stay-at-home mums are frowned upon. Because of this, entire generations are losing out on one of the most important factors that contribute to success: extraordinary mothers.

ʿUmar II was born into the second generation of Muslims following Prophet Muhammad (s), at a time when traditional culture was still the norm. Traditional culture dictates that fathers work to provide for their families, while the mother plays the primary role in raising and nurturing the children. This view of clearly identified and balanced roles is part of the Islamic tradition, as well as the tradition of many other cultures and religions, and it is a precept that worked perfectly. It was only in recent times that the dominant culture has changed, and the results have been disastrous.

So, as was the norm at the time, ʿUmar’s father worked to support the family, and his mother focused on raising her children as best as she could. The results of her efforts are clear: an extraordinary and pious king, ʿUmar II.

Layla made several decisions that highlight her concern for her ʿUmar’s upbringing. She sent him to the greatest scholars of Medina to study Islam, so that he would not just learn the knowledge of the religion but would also see the active example of his teachers’ piety and personal virtues. Her decision gave ʿUmar the opportunity to emulate the behavior of the scholars as well as learning the knowledge they shared. ʿUmar’s mother chose ʿUmar’s grand-uncle ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿUmar to be his mentor so that ʿUmar could absorb the religion and piety directly from the first generation of Muslims. (Ibn ʿUmar was a companion of Prophet Muhammad) And when she migrated to Egypt, she left her son back in Madina so that he would grow up in the best possible environment.[4]

The decision to leave ʿUmar in Madina was particularly difficult. ʿUmar lived in an era before technology. By leaving him in Medina, his mother was sacrificing being physically close to her son in exchange for him growing up in a better environment. This would be an extremely difficult sacrifice for any parent to make, but the results speak for themselves.

As a result of these this mother’s three amazing decisions: educating ʿUmar in Medina under the scholars of Islam, choosing ʿUmar’s grand-uncle ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿUmar to be her son’s mentor, and leaving ʿUmar behind when she moved to Egypt, ʿUmar grew up to become one of the most extraordinary Muslims of his generation. ʿUmar benefited greatly from the environment of Medina. He became more religious, knowledgeable, and empathetic than his cousins. His growth into an extraordinary individual can be directly attributed to the amazing sacrifices his mother made in raising him.

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[1] As-Sallabi, ʿUmar Bin ʿAbd al- ʿAzīz, p. 48

[2] ʿUmar II had a scar on his face from a horse-accident during his childhood. His parents took this as a good sign that the vision was about him. (As-Sallabi, ʿUmar BinʿAbd al- ʿAzīz, p. 55)

[3] al-Dhahabī, Siyar aʿlām al-Nubalāʾ, vol. 5, p. 122

[4] As-Sallabi, ʿUmar Bin ʿAbd al- ʿAzīz, pp. 59-60

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Leadership, 1 comment
4 Fiqh Maxims for General Life Guidance

4 Fiqh Maxims for General Life Guidance

The Maxims of Fiqh (al-Qawāʿid al-Fiqhiyya) refer to simple formulas of Fiqh principles that scholars use in their Ijtihād. These maxims were developed in the second half of Islamic history to make Ijtihād and fatwa-making easier. They are taught in Islamic universities across the globe and memorized by students, in order to facilitate Ijtihād.

In this brief article, however, I want to show a different usage of these same maxims. I believe that these maxims can be used by the general public, not to make fatwas, but rather to guide their lifestyle choices and to keep their lives within an Islamic framework. To show, I have chosen for this article five basic maxims of practical value that all four madhhabs agree upon.

1. Actions are judged by their intentions

This is the first of the five major maxims of Fiqh. Some scholars state that as much as one-third of Fiqh is based on this maxim. In Fiqh, this maxim has multiple usages, which include deciding the ruling on something and whether it is rewarding or not.

In terms of practical everyday usage, we can use this maxim to guide our daily life choices. In everything that we do, we should ask ourselves first, “What is my intention in doing this?” The application of this maxim to our daily lives will ensure sincerity and ward off hypocrisy. It will keep us focused on pleasing Allah, and prevent us from straying in our intentions.

2. Harm must be eliminated

This is also one of the five major maxims of Fiqh. The Fiqh of ḥarām is generally based on this maxim i.e. anything whose harms outweigh its benefits is usually categorized as ḥarām. When judging the value of a thing, scholars weigh the benefits and harms and lean towards prohibition when the thing in question is harmful.

We can apply this maxim to our general lives by living our lives in a manner in which we do not harm anybody, including our own selves, with our actions. By consciously choosing to avoid self-harm and harming others, we can live a life of happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction. Before doing anything, ask yourself, “Will this action be harmful to me or anyone else?” If the answer is yes, then avoid that action unless it is necessary.

3. The original state of people is innocent

This maxim also translates as ‘The original state of people is freedom from liability’. Not only is this an accepted maxim in all the schools of Fiqh, but it has also been adopted by the West under the maxim ‘innocent until proven guilty’. The application of this maxim in Fiqh is that people are innocent of any crimes they are accused of until sufficient evidence is produced to prove their guilt.

We can apply this maxim to our daily lives by avoiding rumors, gossip, and slander. Currently, there is a trend to believe any accusations made about people online. This is unislamic behavior and can lead to great harm in society. Whenever we hear an accusation, we should assume the individual to be innocent until there is clear evidence of guilt.

4. The lesser of two harms should be chosen

This maxim simply means that when a person is in a situation in which all options cause harm, they should choose the option that causes the least harm. This maxim is used in Fiqh to modify the ruling on prohibited things during times of need. Sometimes we will tolerate minor harm if it prevents greater harm.

We can apply this principle in our daily lives by being practical in our approach to life. It isn’t always possible to be perfect and to have choices that are nice and beneficial. Sometimes we are stuck in situations in which whatever we do, someone gets hurt. In such situations, we should choose the minor harm (usually to ourselves) over major harm. This principle can keep us from causing more harm than necessary in times of difficulty.

I hope you found this article beneficial. In shaa Allah, I will produce another article soon highlighting another four maxims that can be applied to our daily lives in a practical manner.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 1 comment
Advice to Fresh Islamic Studies Graduates

Advice to Fresh Islamic Studies Graduates

I graduated from the ʿalim program in 2006. I spent the first few years making all kinds of crazy mistakes. Although I’ve learned from my mistakes over time, I have noticed a trend. In general, a lot of ‘fresh graduates’ make the same mistakes as I did, or even worse mistakes. (Fresh graduate here includes anybody who recently graduated from any ʿalim program or BA in Islamic Studies)

I am writing this to help you avoid repeating my mistakes. The wise person is the one who learns from the mistakes of others, so they don’t have to go through the same experiences. Some of what I write here may be uncomfortable or difficult for you to digest, but it is all equally important. If you want to truly make a difference in your community, please heed the following advice:

Avoid The Popularity Game

It is very tempting to jump straight into social media and start building your following. Over the past two decades, the position of Islamic teachers in communities has rapidly changed. When I started studying Islam, Islamic studies graduates were considered lower class members of society who lived simple lives and were usually poor.

Nowadays, many Islamic Studies graduates are celebrities. They have millions of followers on social media, earn very well, and are generally looked up by their communities. I believe this is a good social change, as Islamic Studies graduates should be respected, paid well and be considered the role models of their communities.

But it does come with one major problem; a lot more youngsters are studying Islam for the wrong reason now (fame). This is a major problem and can have a negative impact on your life and Afterlife.

My advice: avoid the spotlight for the first five years after graduating. Focus instead on all the things mentioned below. A spotlight is a dangerous place where intentions can be corrupted, and mistakes made permanent. If you had to deliver a lecture full of mistakes to a private audience of 30 locals, it will be much easier to correct, than if you made the same mistake on YouTube and it went viral. Stay away until your teachers feel you are ready.

Get to know your community

If you have been away studying Islam in a foreign country for several years, you may be out of touch with your community. Coming straight back and lecturing your community on issues that may not even be relevant to them is a big mistake. Before you start writing or lecturing, spend some time getting to know your community again.

Find out their problems and struggles. Learn what the common beliefs and schools of thought in your community are. Understand their needs and hopes. Develop close relationships with them. Become a beneficial member of your society. Do all of this, and your da’wa will have a lot more impact in later years, as it will be laser-focused on the things that really matter.

Spend time with the elders

Your elders are your fortress. It is from them that you will gain access to decades of experience, wisdom, and knowledge. They have been working in your community longer than you have. They also probably understand the community and its needs much better than you do. Every moment spent in their company is blessed and beneficial. Spend quality time with time and seek their counsel in all your projects.

When you are spending time with them, take time to especially learn from their mistakes and experiences. Ask them about Fiqh positions they have changed over the years and the reasons for the change. Ask them how to engage with the community in the most beneficial manner. Consult them regarding controversial topics, and when/where to discuss them. Their experience in these areas will save you from years of crucial mistakes.

Engage with other types of Muslims

Most likely, you graduated in a specific version of Islam. You may have graduated as a Hanafī Maulana, Salafī Ṭālib al-ʿIlm, or a Mālikī Shaykh. Whatever it is, you would have learned a lot of bad things about the ‘other Muslims’. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t believe what you learned, but at least take the time to learn for yourself from experience.

Visit the local Islamic centers of other groups, and get to know them. Learn their beliefs, practices, and ideas first hand, then make an informed decision on whether you are willing to work with them or not. Do not rely entirely on what you learned in university, because it is often inaccurate or misrepresentation of the beliefs of the ‘others’.

Many ‘fresh graduates’ assume that what they learned is the ‘haqq‘ (truth). They also believe that they are the ones who are going to purify their communities of deviants and innovations. This unrealistic way of thinking leads to community problems, unnecessary clashes, breaking off ties, and irreparable harm.

Calm down. These differences existed before you were born, and may continue to exist centuries after you have passed away. At least take the time you learn about others through personal experience before judging and condemning them. After that, make an informed decision with advice from your elders on how you are going to interact with them.

Build your experience

While you should avoid the spotlight, you shouldn’t avoid doing daʿwa (propagation) either. Instead, build your experience with grassroots level daʿwa. Teach at your local Islamic center, serve as an Imam at the Masjid, or teach at a local Muslim school. Take up a low key role similar to these and build your experience in the field of Islamic work. At least this way, any mistakes you make will affect fewer people and could be repaired.

Utilize at least the first five years after graduation to build your experience in the field. It may be better to avoid social media or public platforms altogether unless your mentors feel you are ready. However, if an opportunity pops up during this time to serve the community on the bigger scale, take it but do so with humility, sincerity and the consultation of your elders. Just remember that the bigger the platform, the harder it is to recover from your blunders.

Always have someone to keep you in your place

As you grow in knowledge, influence and maybe even fame, your Nafs (ego) will become your biggest enemy. You will find yourself constantly battling desires, arrogance, wrong intentions, and other spiritual problems. This doesn’t go away, it will remain a test for life. This is why it is very important to have sincere teachers, mentors, and friends who have your back.

Surround yourself with people who care about you, are not afraid to correct you, and who will humble you when you start developing arrogance. We all need such people in our lives to keep us grounded, and to protect us from our own selves.


Upon graduating, a lot of us are full of zeal and excitement. We can’t wait to share with our communities what we have learned, and ‘fix them’. Take a step back, breath, and give yourself space to develop. Get to know your community, understanding their needs and problems, seek advice from your elders, and stay grounded. Do this and you will accomplish far more, and your efforts will have a lot more barakah (blessings) and impact.

Oh yes, one more thing; Please get married! A young single good-looking celebrity speaker is a huge fitna (trial) in any community. 🙂

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Islam, 0 comments
Does Islamic Studies need an update?

Does Islamic Studies need an update?

I sat with my children looking at the Islamic Studies curriculum for their ages. My children browsed through the textbooks and commented, “We already studied all this year. We want to learn something new.” I agreed with them. I had the same experience when I was their age. I found the Islamic Studies curriculum going around in circles, teaching the exact same topics: Imaan, Salah, Zakah, Sawm, Wudu, Seerah, Tajweed, every single year for almost a decade.

After a while, it grew tedious and boring for me as a student. I found myself looking for new sources of knowledge of Islam and eventually found it outside the curriculum. So for my own children, I decided to do the same. I put aside the national curriculum and decided to formulate my own based on their interests.

Over the next two years in Islamic Studies, we studied; a brief history of the Muslim world, the Muslim Golden Ages, comparative religion, refutations of Atheism, purification of the soul, the wisdom behind the various acts of worship, Islamic manners and character, Tafseer of various Surahs, and explanation of several hadiths.

It is safe to say that my children, despite being only 10 and 11 years old, each of them have a much deeper understanding of Islam than the average child their age. But this got me wondering? Why isn’t all of the above taught adequately in most Islamic schools and madrassas? Why instead do we go around in circles teaching the same subjects every year?

A Proposed New Curriculum

This is my proposal for a revamped Islamic Studies Curriculum for children and what it should include. I have categorized it according to age group, rather than grades.

Ages 5-7:
1) Basic Aqeedah
2) Memorization of Surahs & Duas
3) How to pray and do wudu
4) 5 Pillars of Islam
5) Basic Tajweed
6) Islamic character and manners

Ages 8-10:
1) Basic Fiqh
2) Core Islamic beliefs
3) Introduction to other world religions
4) Tafseer of short Surahs
5) Explanation of important Hadiths
6) Seerah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and other prophets

Ages 11-13:
1) Puberty, sex, being responsible for one’s actions and related topics
2) Detailed History of Islam
3) Muslim Golden Ages: Scientific Accomplishments
4) Purification of the soul
5) The wisdom behind various acts of worship
6) Deeper Tafseer and explanation of Hadith

Ages 14-16:
1) Fiqh of Marriage, Sexual Relations, and Parenting
2) Fiqh of Business, and Islamic work ethic
3) Introduction to Usool of Fiqh, Tafseer, and Hadith
4) Contemporary Issues related to Islam and the modern world (Atheism, Feminism, Liberalism)
5) How to deal with temptation and the traps of Shaytaan
6) Studies of the biographies of contemporary Muslim heroes

Scholars need to work on this

The above are just suggestions. I’m sure the scholars of our time can look at this list, get some ideas, and refine the list into actual subjects, textbooks, etc. The point I am trying to make is that we cannot rely on an Islamic Studies curriculum developed ages ago in the modern.

We need to be constantly updated the curriculum according to challenges of the time we are living in. I believe that if scholars work together, we can come up with much more comprehensive Islamic Studies curriculums that will have a far deeper impact on the hearts and minds of our students.

Learn more about the Islamic Golden Age by clicking here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Homeschooling, 4 comments