Ramadan is here!

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

After all the preparation and anticipation, despite not seeing the moon myself tonight, Ramadan 2013/1434 has arrived. It’s an amazing experience we are blessed with each year and I am so grateful for this opportunity again this year. The Ramadan preparation, the sighting of the moon and the welcoming of this Blessed month brings with it a sense of unity and belonging for Muslims all over the world.

As a Muslim living in the West, Ramadan brings the community together and really fosters the idea of a united Ummah or Nation. From the first night, the Mosque’s are packed, you meet people you don’t usually get to meet, everyone’s excited, lots of hugging, at times the occasional kiss from the Arab brothers – very manly and nothing queer! It is truly a festive atmosphere, sometimes you just have to take the time to appreciate it.

Despite the annual moon-sighting controversy and some differences in the approach and attitude of different ethnic groups, the concept of unity and the sense of togetherness still prevails. Once everyone is fasting, we forget the petty differences and the shared goals bring us closer again on the basis of our sheer love and respect for this great month.

I know I didn’t fully benefit from Ramadan last year which makes this year even more special to me. I am grateful that I have another opportunity and InshaAllah (God willing) I will have my redemption. The last 12 months have taught me many lessons and allowed me to appreciate my faith in a new light. After reflecting on Ramadan’s passed, I feel I have neglected a key aspect of this month and I plan to change that this year.

We get carried away with the fasting during the day and sometime forget that Ramadan is not simply the month of fasting. Ramadan is in fact the month of the Quran and without prioritising and emphasising this, the fasting becomes ritualistic and the month passes by like some sort of diet regime. This Ramadan, my intention is to fully and completely fulfil the rights of the Quran and I pray that by doing so I am able to maximise the blessings of this blessed month and come out the other end a better Muslim InshaAllah.

To my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, I wish you a Blessed Ramadan… May the Almighty shower His mercy upon you, accept your efforts and pardon your shortcomings.

Blessed Ramadan!

Muslim Productivity…

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

During the past 12 months, I’ve spent some time re-thinking my productivity and optimisation strategies. My role as an Accountant/Business Consultant/Payroll Manager/Business Owner/Entrepreneur/Importer/Supplement Enthusiast has developed over the last 12 months so I needed a more comprehensive approach to time management and productivity. My previous methods were very effective but simple and were based on a simple To Do list & Calendar.

When you’re working in an office from 8 – 5 everyday, your priorities revolve around a single place of work and so ‘work’ and ‘home’ to do list sufficed. Having a single workspace makes it relatively easy to stay on top of things since most of your work takes place in that space. When my role changed last year I transitioned into a virtual office which meant many different tasks due at different times to be completed in different places relying on different people so my humble to-do list sufficed but left me overwhelmed at times.

I’ve always been a sucker for productivity, in fact I’ve sacrificed many hours of productivity in the past researching and experimenting with different strategies using various platforms to achieve better productivity and time management. The idea felt natural to me but there have been times in the past where I questioned whether my search for better productivity had been counter productive and as a Muslim I questioned if there was any Muslim-benefit in my obsession.

In my attempt to be a better Muslim, husband, father, son, and a better professional, I found the answer and reaffirmed my obsession. I realised over the years that in many ways, my ability to be a better person in every regard relied on how productive I was and how efficient I was. I had to change my perspective to give real meaning to productivity and find the ‘Muslim’ productivity I was looking for.

My productivity has now made me a better Muslim, husband, father, son and professional. Muslim productivity is about waking up early in the morning to read Quran and pray Fajr, it’s about working smarter and harder earlier in the day so you can afford to break for some mid-day rejuvenation and pray Dhur. The most important aspect of Muslim productivity is knowing when to stop and achieving something meaningful with the time you gain by being more efficient and more productive. It’s not about working all the time and it’s not simply about crossing things off a list. It’s about finding contentment and fulfilment in the things you do by adding a spiritual element to your approach.

What I found even more inspiring was that many of the strategies and approaches could be traced back to Islam and the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) which made my obsession even more fruitful. InshaAllah I will document these in detail in future posts under this new category of “Muslim Productivity’.

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.

2012 closing…

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

 

Alhamdulillah, I am grateful for seeing the end of another year. Every day is a blessing from Allah whether you live by the Lunar or Gregorian Calendar or whether you ‘celebrate’ New Years or not.

After a few hectic weeks, we took a few days off to spend some family time together and celebrate our son’s 2nd birthday as well as our 4th wedding anniversary. These dates or milestones really put things into perspective and are sometimes good reminders about the things we take for granted. I could not believe my son was already 2 and the next day I couldn’t fathom being married for such a long time. The change in routine was good and gave me an opportunity to reflect on 2 of the most important people in my life. Some may call it celebration but I like to think of it as an appreciation for my son who just turned 2 and my wife who’s been with me for the last 4 years. I probably feel the same way every year but I can not believe how fast 2012 went by.

2012 was a big year, lots happened, so much changed and with the change came a few big challenges. My sister got married and moved to America, I quit my job in public practise, began working as a virtual business consultant and finally kicked-ff my online supplement business. Circumstances changed drastically with my dad’s illness and I guess things haven’t quite gotten back to normal since then. I haven’t yet had the strength to write about some of the things I learnt and felt during this challenging time but perhaps I might, Insha Allah.

With so much uncertainty and so much going on at home, time just flew by I’m glad I was able to stop and take a break for a few days to appreciate the blessings in my life. There are many things I wish I had done, so much that was done and as always a few regrets. My aim is to do the things I wish I had done, appreciate the things I did accomplish and work on reducing the regrets Insha Allah.

2012 closes, our holiday was the perfect transition into the new year and now… 2013! Alhamdulillah!

 

 

 

A blue Thursday

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

It’s 11:30 AM on a blue Thursday morning, as I lay in bed with my 21 month old son, I can’t help but remember what blue, rainy mornings were like in the office.

Rainy days on the coast made it difficult to get out of bed and were the cause of many off my ‘sick days’ at work. I used to look out the window and wish I could be at home in bed, maybe watch a movie or 2 or 3 😉

Now that I’m home, these memories make the experience even more enjoyable… If you actually remember them that is. It’s so easy to get stuck into a new routine, you sometimes just forget about your old ones and neglect to appreciate the change.

Make the best of your time and appreciate the little things that happen. By being aware of the things we wish for and sometimes ask for, we can reflect on our circumstances and actually see that our prayers have been answered. Sometimes we’re just too busy to acknowledge the blessings before our eyes.

Had an awesome blue Thursday and I’m grateful for the changes in my routine! Alhamdulillah!

A new routine…

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

Today was the first day of my new routine and my new job as a (part-time) house-husband. The Mrs is doing her 6 week practical experience program for her teaching degree so I’m on babysitting duty from 7 AM to 3 PM everyday.

First day went well, productivity was high, had some good bonding time with my little man and I must admit, the satisfaction and pride I felt at the end of the day made all the poop nappies worthwhile. I am pumped about my new routine and I hope everyday is as good as today.

Despite my initial reluctance in accepting my role as a house-husband for the next 6 weeks, I feel a sense of achievement in my acknowledgement and enthusiasm for this new experience. I’m not sure if it’s a masculinity thing, an ethnic one or perhaps a cultural issue but for some reason, my initial reaction was the fear of being labelled a house-husband. I can’t explain it but my instinct was to justify the situation in the most masculine way possible to avoid anyone assuming I’m some sort of stay-at-home dad.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! I decided not to justify it but to embrace it, break tradition, or culture or whatever it was that resulted in my initial reaction and be the best house-husband (in the most masculine way possible) for the next 6 weeks.

Man is naturally forgetful and instinctively ungrateful. We always want change, always something different. A few months back I would have killed to have 6 weeks at home with my son. I hated leaving home every morning and weekends were never long enough. I used to fantasize about the things I would do if I worked from home and if I had more control over where I was and where I had to be. Fast forward a few months and the dream became a reality, after quitting the office routine and working from the best place ever for the last 6 months, it was so easy to forget those fantasies.

My little reflection gave me a new perspective on things and I’ve been looking forward to my new routine. Day 1 went well and I look forward to tomorrow Insha Allah. I can’t take credit for a full-time house-husband since my amazing wife still takes care of the cooking, cleaning and all the prep that goes into being a housewife/mother/student/teacher/food blogger 😉

While some dads have to be part-time fathers due to their work requirements, I get to be a full-time father for the next 6 weeks… and that is all the justification I need!

Perhaps this is the inspiration I’ve been seeking… Insha Allah I’ll be able to learn, remind and reflect through my writing again!

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!