FREE CHAPTER from Ahmad Climbs A Mountain

FREE CHAPTER from Ahmad Climbs A Mountain

The following free chapter is chapter six of Ahmad Climbs A Mountain. The latest self help eBook from Islamic Self Help’s founder Ismail Kamdar.

You can read the chapter below or download the PDF here. This chapter will give you a taste of the awesome content you will find in our latest eBook.

The full eBook is currently available for purchase at Payhip, Gumroad, and Amazon.

Here is chapter six of Ahmad’s journey. Enjoy!

Free Chapter of eBook

Chapter Six: The Valley of Self-Doubt


Ahmad climbed for a few more days. He stopped at nights to rest in various caves and inns along the way. He was surprised to find that there were many inns operating along the mountain path. He had always assumed nobody climbed the mountain at all.

Yet as he climbed, he kept running into people. Some were resting. Some had given up and were headed back. Others had stopped at certain points and settled there.

The innkeepers fell into this last category. They did not have the determination or motivation to keep climbing to make it to the other side. But they recognized a need for inns at every significant point on the path. So, one by one, people settled at strategic stops on the mountain and set up inns to assist the travellers.

Ahmad was grateful for these inns, as they provided moments of comfort on what was otherwise an uncomfortable climb.

On the third day of climbing, Ahmad reached a valley-like segment of the mountain. There was a steep downhill incline into a small enclosed area, surrounded by the mountain’s tall wall-like slopes.

In this valley, there was an inn called “The Doubters Club,” and it was surprisingly crowded. Ahmad entered the inn and found over two dozen middle-aged people drinking coffee, hanging around, chatting, playing cards, and just having a good time.

He booked a room for the night and settled down at a corner table to have a cup of coffee. As he sat and waited for his coffee, Ahmad was joined by two middle-aged men. He recognized them as the two men he had seen playing chess when he first entered.

They had finished their game, noticed the newcomer, and decided to welcome him. “My name is Abdul,” said the first man, “and this here is Rashad. What brings you this high up the mountain, kid?”

Ahmad introduced himself and explained his purpose. The two men had a good laugh. Rashad explained why, “We were just like you when we first set off. But the higher we climbed, the harder it got. We realized then that we were never going to make it. So why bother?”

Abdul continued, “So, we settled here in this valley and opened this inn. We realized that there would be many more like us – foolish youngsters who think they can climb the mountain – so we provide them with some fun instead. Why try what you can’t do, hey?”

Ahmad did not understand what was going on. Were these two men seriously trying to talk him out of his goal? They didn’t even know him and already assumed he couldn’t succeed.

“What makes you think I can’t climb this mountain?” Ahmad replied. “Many others have done so before.”

“Not that many,” Abdul replied, “Many more stop here and turn back. Few make it beyond this point. Let me ask you this: have you ever climbed a mountain before?”

“No, but…” replied Ahmad. He wasn’t given time to complete that thought.

“So, you have no experience then!” Rashad said. “You are chasing a dream without any experience, skills, guide, or assistance. How foolish is that? You should just back out now while you still can… People die further down the road.”

“I tell you what,” said Abdul, “spend a few nights here. Enjoy the entertainment we have to offer. Think it over, and be realistic. I’m sure you’ll make the right choice then. Don’t go throwing your whole life away over a foolish dream.”

With that, they left Ahmad alone with his coffee and his thoughts. Ahmad spent the night at the inn but did not get much sleep. He was consumed with thoughts of self-doubt.

What if I fail?

What if there is nothing better on the other side?

What if I am wasting my time?

What if I am wasting my youth?

What if something happens to my family while I am away?

What if I die?

The “what ifs” flooded his mind one by one, and they were unbearable. Ahmad had not experienced such extreme negative thoughts before. He generally considered himself an optimist and a dreamer.

However, these questions did seem very realistic to him. They made sense. They were grounded in logic. And they all pointed in one direction: Run away!

Run back to the comfort of your home and do not chase any scary dreams. Why risk the hard route when an easier one exists?

Filled with such dreadful thoughts, Ahmad decided to pray for guidance again. He stood for fifteen minutes in prayer that night. After praying, his mind continued to fill with “what if” thoughts, but this time they were different:

What if I never try?

What if I go back and regret not trying and the regret lasts for the rest of my life?

What if something life-changing lies on the other side?

What if I can do it, and I never find out because I turned back too early?

What if I am about to accomplish something amazing?

What if I am closer to my goal than I think?

What if this is the one thing I need to do to truly enhance the quality of my life?

These new thoughts gave Ahmad perspective. There will always be questions, doubts, and fears. But the pain of not knowing whether we are capable is worse than the pain of trying and failing.

He was now determined to put the doubts aside and push forward towards his goal.

The next morning, Ahmad woke up early and continued on his journey. He left quietly without meeting the doubters; he certainly did not want to deal with their negativity again. Leaving them behind, he set on up the mountain accompanied by his renewed self-confidence.

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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, Fiction

Exclusive Preview: Getting The Barakah An Islamic Guide To Time Management

The following is an extract from my book
Getting The Barakah An Islamic Guide to Time Management, now available for download!

Getting The Barakah An Islamic Guide To Time Management

Common Distractions and their dangers

The Email Trap

Schedule specific times of the day for checking emails and social media and for receiving and making phone calls.

Many of us make the mistake of checking our phones, PDAs or PCs at every notification. We want to read every email as soon as we receive it and this is multiplied if you have multiple inboxes and accounts.

There are two major problems that come from this. The first is that it can literally take up your entire day. Every time you are settling into a task, you receive a notification and feel the need to check it out and often reply to it. If you add up the amount of minutes you spend doing this daily, it is literally hours.

The solution is to regulate your communication work into batches. By setting specific times of the day to check each inbox, you will save time in multiple ways:

  1. You will be looking at all of the emails at one time so it does not interrupt other work, and that helps increase the quality of the other work.
  2. You can answer each email faster as it is the task you are focused on in the moment
  3. If multiple emails require similar responses, you can utilize the copy/paste function to save even more time.

It is equally important to decide what time of the days you check your email. A common mistake we make is to check our email at the start of the day. The problem with this is that it dulls the mind as answering email can be a very boring part of your job, and doing so makes it difficult to revive your mental faculties for more creative work later.

Furthermore, if any email contains information that is going to stress you out or affect your mood, it is now going to affect your entire day.

A recent study shows that many of the most efficient people in the world only check their emails around midday. This allows them to get all of their most creative and important work done in the early mornings while their minds are still fresh, and all their emails get answered anyway but without affecting the rest of the workload.

So there are essential two ways to optimize email work:

  1. Work in batches
  2. Answer emails late in the day

The Phone Trap

In addition to emails, today are SMSs, phone calls, voicemail, regular mail, social media notifications, etc. You need to resist the urge to take a call or check your phone at every notification. Instead, close all social media sites and switch your phone to silent while working on important projects. Then check your phone and social media for five minutes every hour.

You will notice that the world did not come to an end in those 55 minutes that you were offline. Instead, you able to get quality work done, and still have enough time to respond to all notifications during those five-minute intervals.

You can also use other methods to get around this. If you can afford to, hire a secretary to take your phone calls and give you a list of phone calls that you need to return at the end of the day. You can also activate Voicemail and just check your voicemail every few hours to find out which calls need to be returned.

Furthermore, when taking a call, do not lose track of time or get lost in unnecessary conversations. Inform the other person that you have five minutes to speak (or whatever you feel is right for that specific call) and then you need to get back to work. This will encourage them to summarize what they need to discuss and will save you a lot of valuable time that is wasted in unnecessary discussion.

Personally, I try to limit conversations by informing people that my preferred medium of communication is email and that they are more likely to get a detailed response to an email, than with a phone call. This way, once people understand this, the number of phone calls you receive is reduced and you will deal with more emails instead. This is actually better, as emails are usually to be point and do not include the amount of unnecessary conversation you will have to deal with during a phone call.

Extract from Getting The Barakah An Islamic Guide to time management, pp. 77-80

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, Time Management

What exactly is Islamic Self Help?

What is Islamic Self Help?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books

What is Positive Stress?

What is positive stress?

Any stress that pushes you to do your best and improve is positive stress. We all need a push to improve. Without such a push, we just fumble through life without accomplishing anything. For success in both worlds, stress is necessary, and there are many examples of positive stress in both our spiritual and material lives.

An example of a spiritual form of positive stress is the fear of the Hellfire. As Muslims, we believe that the Hellfire is a real creation of Allah, and it is the final destination of those who consciously reject Allah and His message. It is also a temporary destination for those who choose to live lives of sin, despite believing. Fear oPositive Stressf the Hellfire keeps people from committing sins and avoiding obligations. This is a good type of stress if balanced with hope in Allah’s Mercy

This only becomes a negative form of stress if it is misunderstood or unbalanced. In some communities, the Hellfire is overemphasized and Paradise is rarely mentioned. Youth growing up in which communities grow up under a lot of stress to be perfect, and perfection is impossible. The result is that many young people lose hope in Allah’s Mercy, they crack under too much stress of His Punishment, become despondent and fall into a life of sin and hopelessness. Balancing fear and hope is key in making this a positive stress in the lives of believers.

We all face situations in which we are tempted to commit great evil, and nobody is watching us except Allah. If our faith is strong enough, then at such moments the stress of thinking about displeasing Allah is enough to prevent us from committing such major sins. If not, then it is at least strong enough to make us feel guilty and make us repent from our sins, as Allah is the Accepter of all repentance.

This is a good example of a positive form of stress that we cannot afford to live without. We need this stress to keep us from making mistakes that can harm us in both worlds.

Likewise, in our worldly lives, there are many examples of positive stress. A good example of this is the concept of deadlines. Deadlines exist to keep us stressed enough to get our work done on time. Without deadlines, many people will never get their work done ever. As someone who has spent the past few years in a management position, I know that deadlines are critical for successfully managing a team. Yes, they do stress employees out, but it is stress that motivates them to work and get things done, and this is positive stress.

Likewise, bills are a positive form of stress. If people did not have bills to pay and things to buy, they wouldn’t work. People who don’t need to work often end up lazy, unproductive and wasting their lives away. Knowing that you have bills to pay at the end of the month is a positive stress that leads you to excel at your career and work hard, and the world benefits from hardworking people.

The desire to fulfil your dreams and goals before death is a positive form of stress. Knowing that our time in this world is temporary pushes us to seize the day and make each day count. In this way, we strive to accomplish our goals and make the most of our lives. Without the fear of death, there would be no urgency to seize the day and make it count.

I hope this has made you realize that you do not need to eliminate stress from your life altogether. Embrace the positive stressors in your life, and accept them as a motivational source to help you excel and be your best. It is only negative stress that needs to be eliminated or reduced significantly.

The advantages of Positive Stress can be summarized as the following:

  1. They get us to work
  2. They push us to be our best
  3. They protect us from sin and laziness
  4. They give us a reason to live
  5. Without stress, nothing would ever get done

This article is an extract from Abu Muawiyah’s upcoming book on Stress Management, available early 2016.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Stress Management

The Virtue of Earning Your Own Income

earning income

Hadith on virtues of earning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Business