Filling empty containers…

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

Today’s Jumuah sermon was a continuation of Dr Mohamad Abdalla’s lecture on the importance of time management. The entire lecture series has been absolutely inspiring and has captivated the Jumuah audience over the last 4 weeks. 

The issue of Time Management is something I am passionate about and I was blown away by the 1st lecture in the series a few weeks ago. Since then, the audience has grown in number with many attending Jumuah at Kuraby just to hear Dr Abdalla speak. 

In his talk today, Dr Abdalla mentioned a letter of advice from Imam Ibn Al-Jawzi to his son on the issue of Time. The story caught my attention so I noted a few details and looked it up this evening. This is what it read:

“Know, dear son,
that days are but hours,
and hours are but breaths,
and every soul is a container,
hence let not any breath pass without any benefit,
such as on the Day of Judgment you find an empty container and feel regret!
Be aware of every hour and how it passes,
and only spend it in the best possible way;
do not neglect yourself,
but render it accustomed to the noblest and best of actions,
and send to your grave that which will please you when you arrive to it.”

As a Muslim, I’ve heard this advice many times before but I found this particular line very intriguing… “let not any breath pass without any benefit, such as on the Day of Judgement you find an empty container and feel regret”. The idea of an ’empty’ container got me thinking. 

We place so much emphasis on either doing whats right or whats wrong that we forget about the time we’re not doing anything at all. How many containers do we leave empty each day? 

Perhaps by focussing solely on the good and the bad, we overlook the amount of time we waste each day. The fact that with each hour, we have the choice of filling these containers with good deeds, bad deeds or no deeds at all really puts things in to perspective.  Despite all the good we try to accomplish with every hour, I don’t like the idea of having too many empty containers. 

What are we doing with our spare time? 

Never Miss Fajr… there’s an app for that!

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

A few weeks back I found myself struggling to maintain a healthy routine and as a result, had difficulty waking up for Fajr Salaah. It’s usually as easy as simply getting to bed earlier but with a heavy workload, shorter nights and the backlog of office work, it wasn’t that simple. 

I woke up one morning to the sound of the Adhan and realised it was coming from my wife’s phone so I leaned over to turn it down and found myself answering Islamic Trivia instead of just hitting the snooze button. Half asleep, I answered 3 correct answers and the Adhan turned off, I must have been really dazed because I didn’t think twice about answering the questions despite not knowing what I was doing at the time. Nevertheless, the brain stimulation seemed to work and I was able to easily get out of bed to pray Fajr. 

Later that day my wife shared this amazing app with me… ‘Never miss Fajr’. It’s a simple, yet ingenious idea that hasn’t failed me since I started using it a few weeks back. A simple interface allowing you to select your Adhan times based on your location, your preferred reciter and your choice of ‘Trivia’ or ‘Shake’ to turn the Adhan off. 

I found the trivia option works best to get my mind working and is a good recap of some general Islamic knowledge. There’s no snooze button, volume control or any shortcuts once the Adhan begins so the app is geared to get your attention to the screen and keeps your mind at work until you work through the trivia questions. The ‘Shake to Wake’ option is fun but in my experience, less effective. 

The Salaah time calculation is very accurate and locates you right down to your suburb which is very convenient. It also allows you an alarm delay if the set times are different to your local Salaah timetable. 

One tip though, keep your phone volume at about 70% to make sure the Adhan is loud enough to wake you up but not the kids.

The phone is usually a distraction from Salaah, perhaps apps like these can give our mobile devices a more spiritual purpose in our lives. What does your phone do for you? Mine gets me up for Fajr every morning 😉

The App is FREE and available on iOS and Android. More info available here.

 

“He who offers the dawn (Fajr) prayers will come under the Protection of Allah. – Muslim 

Intermittent Fasting…

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

In 2012, Intermittent Fasting became mainstream and sparked substantial debate through-out the diet and fitness world. I first heard about it on Facebook and recall some chatter at the gym too but I didn’t give it too much thought. It sounded very boring and slow but I had heard only good things about it so when I decided to go on a shredding diet myself, Intermittent Fasting sounded like a good idea. To the Google…

What I found was more than a diet or fitness program… it was a new lifestyle. Something that promised a healthier diet, better nutrition, faster weight-loss, increased energy, decreased health risks and promote health & longevity. It sounded like another fad but before dismissing it I found a simple explanation about the foundation of Intermittent Fasting which turned my health and fitness goals into something much deeper… spiritual enlightenment.

You know that feeling when you attend an inspiring talk by an internationally renowned scholar who’s explanations and descriptions of religion, faith and spirituality make you tremble with inspiration… when you realise that you have something so amazing, so profound and you just needed someone to say it to you and remind you 1 more time… That’s how I felt, absolutely gob-smackingly enlightened.

In a new diet book titled, The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting, Dr. Michael Mosley suggests that the best way to lose weight is to eat normally for 5 days a week, and fast for 2…

This is not new science, I’ve been hearing about this since I was a kid, I’ve done it myself in the past and I know so many people who’ve been doing it for years but I’m so glad I came across this, who would’ve thought that Googling a new diet program would lead me back to the Sunnah.

SubhanAllah is all I can say right now. Perhaps I will research more and look into the program further, there are a few different takes on it but as a Muslim, the principles are sound and if I’m going to implement a new diet regime, let it be from the Sunnah Insha Allah.

Anyone out there curious about Intermittent Fasting, remember… ‘A’isha (RA) said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to take care to fast on Mondays and Thursdays.” [at-Tirmidhi]

Science is just a tool, revive a Sunnah for true enlightenment.

 

I

Melbourne Cup Reflections…

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

Growing up I was oblivious to the Melbourne Cup festivities, right through uni too, I heard about the race that supposedly stopped the nation but I couldn’t be bothered to even take note of some of the things that go on. I remember my first Melbourne Cup day in the office, everyone was excited about dressing up, getting drunk and betting on horses with the most unusual names. I spent the day before the races turning down various sweeps and betting syndicates and had to explain to everyone why I didn’t have an interest in gambling or the idea of heading to the pub for the races.

I was the only Muslim in the office so this was new to many of my colleagues but everyone was understanding. I requested to be excused from the afternoon lunch at the pub and my manager was very accommodating so while the rest of the office got drunk and lost all the money they played on the races, I stayed back and had a quiet afternoon in the office. This took place towards the end of my first year in public practice and despite being excused from the actual drinks and gambling that afternoon, I recall feeling very uncomfortable in the office and began noticing how different I was from everyone else.

By this time, the euphoria was wearing off and I began noticing a few changes taking place that I wasn’t very happy with so I remember questioning whether this was the right work place for me. Fast forward a few months and my prayers were answered, I received a job offer from a smaller firm up the road that turned out to be alcohol free, gambling free and pork free. My new manager was mormon and my new colleague was a fellow Muslim brother I knew from an Islamic camp a few years before.

The new office was awesome, didn’t have to deal with the office drinks, drunken parties, gambling or dirty talk. All the food was halal, afternoon drinks were replaced with afternoon tea and office parties were replaced by jet skiing, mini golf and gelato overlooking the beach. Halal food, halal entertainment, a boardroom for our prayers and a 2 hour lunch break for Jumuah… Perfect. My first Melbourne Cup day in the new office was actually quite enjoyable, no one cared about the races, not a beer in sight and instead off drinks at the pub, the manager treated us to a little lunch and dessert which was a good change in routine.

I spent 2 Melbourne Cups at the new office which was quite enjoyable and comfortable… lots has changed since then and by the next Melbourne Cup I found myself working from home completely oblivious to the hustle and bustle of the corporate world. I am so grateful for the way things turned out. After working in public practise for 3 and half years, despite a very Muslim friendly work place in my last job, the freedom and luxury of working from home and working for yourself is absolutely amazing. The challenge now is maintaining an Islamic working environment while having complete flexibility and control of my own working conditions. It’s easy to complain about restrictions and limitations when you work for someone else, the real test is whether or not you can fulfil your duties, both religious and professional when you have control of your time and workload.

I hope and pray that my new boss allows my faith to flourish beyond the restrictions and limitations of the corporate lifestyle. Looking forward to many more Melbourne Cup Days in my virtual office away from the drinking and gambling. While I am grateful for my experience, I also pray that anyone out there subjected to less than the ideal working environment be granted the strength to maintain their faith and prosper in their line of work.

Something’s are just not worth missing…

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

I realized today how neglectful I’ve been of some of the little things that have been taking place around me. The past few months have been absolutely hectic and it hasn’t yet subsided but when I reflect on the choices I made and the priorities I set, it might have been easier if I stopped from time to time just to take everything in.

I used to write about efficiency and time management as a Muslim but sometimes it’s easier to write about it than it is to practise it and I seem to have forgotten my own principles. When faced with a new challenge and a shift in responsibilities, I almost instinctively kicked into overdrive focussing on what I had to get done each day and what deadlines had to be met. Every task completed saw a few more added to my list and the cycle continued, I found myself staying up some nights, waking up early, spending hours in the office and at times I even forgot why I was doing certain things. I turned into a robot!

I’m grateful that I can reflect on this after only a few weeks but I’m saddened at the thought of what I may or may not have missed while I was engrossed in myself. Sometimes you just have to stop and … well, stop! Cause something’s are just not worth missing!

I hope I can learn from my own mistakes Insha Allah, seriously need to re-visit some of my old posts for inspiration!

Living in the moment…

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

I got carried away scrolling down my Twitter timeline while sitting at the dinner table last night, I’m sure there was something meaningful I was looking for to share with my wife and sister but I got distracted and made my way through the mostly useless tweets I missed through the day. My wife was quick to remind me that it was dinner time and I immediately put my phone away. When I think about it now, not only is it sad but it was extremely rude. I don’t think we can use technology and social media to justify breaking traditional social protocols.

Facebook and Twitter connect us with family and friends around the world which is amazing but can we really justify a connection through social media at the expense of those sitting right next to us?

I’m a big fan of Facebook and Twitter so I’m not going to advocate against the use of technology and social media but I do think that it’s worth reflecting on how much time we spend using these mediums of socialising while neglecting our immediate social environment.

Next time you’re tweeting about what you ate for dinner or uploading dinner pics to facebook or drawing something for someone across the world to guess… think about the people sitting with you at the dinner table… connect with them first and live in the moment you’re in.

My sisters wedding…

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

I had the privilege of speaking at my sister’s wedding a few weeks ago, this is an extract of my speech:

As we celebrate and commemorate tonight, I believe it is important to distinguish the marriage from the wedding and the events attached to it. The wedding will end tonight, the honeymoon will end in a few weeks, its the marriage, the Nikah that will live beyond the events we’ve come to enjoy over the past few days. Behind all the glitter and glamour… beyond the fancy clothes and the delicious food lies a simple tradition, a simple belief… the Sunnah of Nikah!

In order to fully appreciate the importance of Nikah and benefit from the merits attached to it, we must reflect on the tradition itself and the divine wisdom behind it. We witness everyday the blatant disregard for marriage so the very fact that we are here today to celebrate this Nikkah is a blessing in itself and worthy of our acknowledgement.

As a newly wed myself, I don’t believe I am in a position yet to be giving marital advice but if there’s one piece of advise I will give the couple tonight, it would be this, that there is not much that can go wrong in a marriage if both parties respect and acknowledge the institute of marriage itself. Understand that this Nikkah has been prescribed upon you and that your spouse has been predetermined for you, it is this understanding and acceptance of divine intervention that will allow you to succeed not just in marriage but in all aspects of life.

May Allah keep us all happily married!