New Routine… Part 2

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

Almost 4 weeks into the second instalment of my wife’s practical experience program and 2 weeks left of my househusband duties. Despite my reluctance the first time around, it’s become second nature now with 10 weeks under my belt. To be honest, I am going to miss it when it’s over.

After successfully implementing a toddler friendly work routine I was able to work more productively and even found time to earn some brownie points by cooking dinner and taking care of the groceries. I can’t remember the last time I worked so efficiently and productively, I really hope I can maintain it going forward.

When you work smart and focus hard, you can achieve certain efficiencies but that’s not the end goal, the goal is to work smart enough to get what you need done and allow yourself time to unwind and do ‘other’ things. When the day’s work is done and the day is not over, that’s when you start having fun.

My office has been transformed into an awesome little playground, there are toy cars parked everywhere, a fuel station under my desk and car stickers on my filing cabinets… it’s awesome. We watched movies, played games, went shopping, cooked lunch and had some very interesting conversations. Became quite the pro at carting the kid everywhere I went, even managed my meetings and met all deadlines.

The best of my accomplishments though, was strengthening my spirituality and reviving old good habits. The last 4 weeks have allowed me to maximise my time and take advantage of so many things I’ve neglected and have been striving to achieve since my job description changed last year. Frequenting the mosque, setting aside time everyday to recite Quran, studying the meaning of the Quran and countless hours listening to inspirational speakers from across the globe has helped me find contentment in my productivity and a sense of peace.

My routine will change again soon Insha Allah but I’m hoping to continue on this path. If I was able to achieve so much with my current schedule, I must do even better with wife’s help during the day.

Insha Allah (God Willing)…

Time management… the right way!

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

The last few weeks, perhaps months, have been extremely busy and I often found myself searching for ways to maximise my time and increase productivity while maintaining an Islamic lifestyle.

When you’ve got a long to-do list and an ever-changing routine, you tend to get carried away and at times engrossed in whatever you’re doing. You might not read enough Quran in the morning, perhaps prayers are delayed or even neglected… Sometimes even the people around you might be distanced in an attempt to work harder, faster, better.

In my own experience I’ve found that it’s easy to put off the little things when your focus is purely productivity. The reason I emphasise the little things is because I believe it’s the little things that facilitate the larger, more significant issues. Here’s a small example: Its mid morning and you’re at work, whatever or wherever that is, as noon approaches, you’re faced with a choice, break your productive streak, take a break and stop by the Mosque for Dhur… or maintain your focus, stay in for lunch and get the job done early… what to do?

I must admit, at times I chose to stay focussed, maintained high productivity and got the job done. I didn’t sacrifice my prayer though, I prayed at work and fulfilled that too but what I did sacrifice was the opportunity to actually get away from work, visit the Mosque, pray in congregation and rejuvenate before another session of work. In hindsight, a bad call!

This afternoon I took another approach, I was at the warehouse and had a few errands to run. As 12:30 approached, I decided to drop what I was doing and head to the Mosque for Dhur… this is what I gained:

  1. Prayer in congregation
  2. A break from routine
  3. Mid-day rejuvenation
  4. Spiritual fulfilment
  5. Witnessing a Brother embrace Islam at the mosque
  6. Re-assessed my priorities for the afternoon; and
  7. Very importantly, came across this Hadith –

Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said, “Verily Allah says: O son of Adam, free yourself for my worship, I will (in turn) fill your chest with satisfaction and remove your poverty, and if you don’t, I will fill your hands with distraction and will not remove your poverty.” [Ahmad, Ibn Majah]

Mind Blown! I’ve been looking at it the wrong way, it’s not about productivity to get things done so you have time to worship Allah… It’s about taking the time to worship Allah and achieving efficiencies in doing so! Productivity is pointless without contentment…

Sometimes it’s easier said than done but I hope, Insha Allah, I am able to remember this and apply it going forward.

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.

 

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2012 Solar Eclipse…

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

I was joking with my wife earlier tonight about waking up early tomorrow morning so we could witness the solar eclipse, we realised that we didn’t get any protective eyewear so we’d in fact be waking up early to not look at the solar eclipse which was kinda funny. Nevertheless, with the hype and media coverage this evening, we got talking and she reminded me of the eclipse prayer and asked if there was anyone offering in congregation. I haven’t heard of any mosques offering the prayer in congregation but I remember reading about it a little while back so I decided to do some research and put together a few notes on how to offer the prayer.

The prayer itself is described in the following Hadith:

Narrated `Aisha: In the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) the sun eclipsed, so he led the people in prayer, and stood up and performed a long Qiyam, then bowed for a long while. He stood up again and performed a long Qiyam but this time the period of standing was shorter than the first. He bowed again for a long time but shorter than the first one, then he prostrated and prolonged the prostration. He did the same in the second rak`a as he did in the first and then finished the prayer; by then the sun (eclipse) had cleared. He delivered the Khutba (sermon) and after praising and glorifying Allah he said, “The sun and the moon are two signs against the signs of Allah; they do not eclipse on the death or life of anyone. So when you see the eclipse, remember Allah and say Takbir, pray and give Sadaqa.” Bukhari, 2.154.

The Hadith explains the actual prayer which I have summarised below but it also clarifies the fact that solar and lunar eclipses have nothing to do with deaths, births or other events so we should avoid superstition and rather fear Allah at these times and invoke prayer. Allah’s signs are found throughout nature and though science may provide a logical explanation of these events, as believers, we acknowledge the Almighty and bear witness to His signs. While the sight itself is quite amazing, why not take advantage of the occasion by following a sunnah of our beloved Prophet (p.b.u.h) and performing Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah.

Here is a summary of the prayer, also known as Salaat-ul-Kusoof:

  1. Stand up for prayer as normal
  2. Recite Qur’an as normal
  3. Perform a prolonged Ruku (Bow) with Dua/Supplication
  4. Stand up and recite Qur’an again
  5. Perform a 2nd prolonged Ruku (Bow) but not as long as the first one
  6. Stand up and then proceed into Sujood (prostration) and prolong the Sujood with Dua/Supplication
  7. Sit up straight as you normally would between prostrations
  8. Go back into sujood again and prolong it but not as long as the first prostration
  9. Repeat the above steps for the second rakaat or second unit of prayer

 

The Eclipse can be viewed over Queensland (QLD) tomorrow morning 14 November 2012 from approximately 5:44 AM to 7:44 AM. May Allah accept our prayers and guide us towards the straight path.

 

“Therefore remember Me. I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and never show Me ingratitude” – Al-Baqarah 2:152

 

 

 

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.

Between Ramadhan’s

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

 

I just spent a few minutes reading my own Ramadhan Reminders from last year and I can’t believe how much has changed. Alhamdulillah I am grateful for everything that I have and I trust in the way things are meant to be, but when you actually take the time to look back and reflect… it’s quite amazing.

Last Ramadhan feels like yesterday, yet so much has changed, so much has happened since then. Really puts things into perspective. I feel humbled by the lack of control yet pleased with the outcome.

When I started writing a few years back I hoped that my writing would firstly serve as a reminder to myself and then to anyone who can benefit from it. Now I know what I meant! Looking back at last years posts has truly served as a reminder and I’m hoping to take some of my own advice.

 

Blessed Ramadhan!

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.

Friday morning…

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

As I took out the trash this morning I was reminded of a little story … The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) was seen by one of his companions while taking out the trash.  His companion was alarmed and said to the Prophet: Oh Messenger of God, you are taking out the trash!  The Prophet replied: who should I have take out the trash, the mother of the believers?

Following the Sunnah is really not that difficult… Blessed Jumuah!

Reflection: Less racing, more winning!

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

I realized today that I sometimes get carried away with certain obsessions at the expense of things more rewarding and fulfilling in life. It must be a human thing because it feels natural and you often notice it in other people. I guess the wisdom lies in the realization of these obsessions and the ability to recognize and alter the way you do things.

For the past few months I’ve been obsessed with my fitness and as a result, I now hold 2 concurrent gym memberships. I’m sure I’ll make good use of them but in hindsight, it may not have been the brightest idea. Reflecting on my actions I’ve realized that by obsessing over it, my expectations where higher and it became more difficult to achieve what I was set out to achieve.

That’s not what I regret though, what I regret are the things I missed out on.

As my passion for the obsession fizzled, I stopped chasing it so much and have found my priorities re-aligned with the more important things in life. As soon as my focus shifted, my priorities changed, I felt more fulfilled and despite not frequenting the gym as often… I’m fitter than ever … And I have more time for my family!

Alhamdulillah!

Ramadhan Reflections: The first few days…

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

With Eid celebrations well under way and the month of Shawwal now upon us, each day that passes by takes with it a small part of the legacy of Ramadhan. As time separates us from the Blessed month, we are presented with another opportunity to test our faith and enhance our spirituality. Many of us experienced a spiritual high during Ramadhan, no matter how much or how little we were able to achieve, we all experienced a sense of peace and spiritual enlightenment. No words can describe the feeling of satisfaction and contentment that Ramadhan brings with it.

During the past few weeks we were able to sacrifice food & drink all day, we controlled our desires and were still able to stand in prayer at night. We woke up earlier, slept later, at times didn’t sleep at all but we did it and I know most of us enjoyed it. It’s important to look back and reflect on what we were able to achieve during Ramadhan, if we could do it during Ramadhan, the only thing stopping us from continuing outside of Ramadhan is a lack of motivation.

Reflect on Ramadhan and realise your potential, the mercy and blessings that descended during this month may have boosted our faith but the real change came from within ourselves. We all made an effort, we all experienced the change and Insha Allah we will all be rewarded.

The month may have ended but our efforts and achievements shouldn’t end with it. Waking up for Fajr may not be as easy any more, and I’m speaking from experience here, it’s all good to do it for 30 days but the true test comes the day after Eid, when we’re all recovering from the celebrations and feasting. I believe it’s our actions during the first few days after Ramadhan that determine whether we are able to maintain our spirituality and carry on the legacy of Ramadhan throughout the year.

After a month of hard work and dedication, we need a little break to adjust our routine, perhaps make up for some lost sleep and enjoy the festivities of Eid. As we celebrate our achievements and return to our normal routine, remember the month of Ramadhan, remember what we achieved, remember the effort we made and remember the peace and contentment we experienced.

Our efforts shouldn’t end with the sighting (or calculation of the birth) of the new crescent. Maintaining our spirituality during the first few days after Ramadhan will allow us to benefit from Ramadhan throughout the year. May Allah accept our efforts, allow us to maintain our faith through the year and may we witness many more Blessed months Insha Allah.

…and remember… “The deeds most loved by Allah are those done regularly, even if they are small.”