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To Be Grateful…

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By Hooriya Ikram

Gratitude is a trait that is admired by all religions and philosophies and is also deemed valuable by every individual. The term ‘gratitude’ means to acknowledge the benefit of something that grants value. In a broader sense, it doesn’t only mean to value something at heart or verbally rather it also means being content on whatever you have either more or less and to use that very blessing in an appropriate way.

It helps one lead a healthy and content life full of merriment. As we know that today’s corporate worldview has changed the whole perspective of our lifestyles, we do not earn to live rather we live to earn and hoard wealth in order to boast about our achievements. In such an individualistic society, we can never be satisfied even if we get mountains of gold until we learn to feel grateful on our little achievements. The era we are living in is full of vulnerabilities and economic threats as technology is replacing manpower and consequently job opportunities are growing lesser than ever before. We hear about these issues every now and then through media. Though we are badly being enveloped by day-to-day emerging problems, we need to consider them, ensure to prevent them and take measures to counter them, and not to prattle and complain about them all the time. In my view, our approach to problems is extremely counterproductive as our talk shows are loaded with the discussions on national issues but they aren’t adequately devising implementable solutions to them. From a bird’s eye view, the biggest problem of the contemporary world is that the focal point of everyone is to gain more and more and to ignore, belittle and be thankless on what is already there. If we, as a nation, learn to be positive by focusing on the blessings we have and by holding discussions about how to exploit them in a productive way, believe me, we can excel with a far greater pace than that of developed countries.

Many researches were conducted to determine the effects of gratitude on psychological emotions. Most of them have shown that grateful people are less prone to depression, anxiety, stress, sadness etc. One of such researches was conducted by a well-established psychology expert Martin Seligman from the University of Utrecht, Netherlands in which he sampled a group of students and asked them to remember those people of their lives whom they are grateful for and to list three things they are blessed to have. As a result, an apparent increase in the contentment of students was observed.

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Gratitude is given a lot of importance in the Divine religion of Islam as it has associated it with incentives that instigate its followers to observe it. For example, Allah, the Exalted stated in the Holy Quran;

“…if you give thanks, I will give you more..”  [14; 7]

“…soon We will reward the thankful..” [03; 135]

Throughout the Quran, Allah, the Exalted repetitively reminds us of His blessings and then incites in us the very spirit of gratitude.

“If you count Allah’s favours, you will not be able to enumerate them.” [14; 34]

We owe a lot to our Creator. Although we can’t pay His right at all, we may acknowledge His favours in true sense of words and actions. Every blessing we have, no matter how diminutive, is worth all we seek to achieve, yet we keep on whining about things we don’t have and ignore what we already have. The moment of whine is actually the time for gratitude. For instance, a scholar named Sa’di was once heading somewhere barefoot. He complained to his Lord about his state of deprivation. As soon as he arrived, he saw a man without feet. There and then he acknowledged the sublime blessing of feet and regretted his whining. Therefore, we infer from this very incident that we need to keep on going with fortitude and gratitude by seeking Allah’s help.

A relevant verse from the Holy Quran states;

“If you are thankless, Allah is in no need of you, yet He is not pleased by the ingratitude of his servants….” [39; 7]

This life is a test, we cannot lead an ideal life here. So we are supposed to learn to be happy regardless of what circumstances we face and accept ourselves the way we are, which cannot come true until we stop comparing ourselves to others.

The Prophet ﷺ said;

“When one of you sees another who is superior to him in point of wealth and creation, let him look to him who is below him. That is more appropriate that you hold not in contempt the favor of God towards you.” {Recorded in Bukhari, Muslim and Tirmidhi}

We are reminded of Allah’s eminent slaves so that we learn from their examples. These people, His renowned prophets, were tested either by hardships or by good times, but they remained grateful and patient at the same time, Allah extols them in His book with unrivalled words that shows his deep love for this trait. Our trials are incomparable to those of them, but they are there to set difficult examples for us to seek guidance relevant to our conditions. The most important thing we learn from these people is that only grateful people can sustain in difficult times and ingratitude is detrimental altogether.

Lastly, I would suggest a practical tip from the Quran that can help us remain grateful all our life. It is stated in the Quran;

“And do not extend your eyes toward that by which we have given enjoyment to (some) categories of them, [its being but] the splendour of worldly life by which we test them. And the provision of your lord is better and enduring.” [20; 131]

To conclude, I’ll say that In order to revel the fruits of gratitude, we are obliged to be satisfied on what we have and not to think wishfully about others’ blessings as it arouses envy and ingratitude.

 

 

 

 

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Responsibility: The Islamic Perspective

By Sidra Adil

Responsibility and Accountability Spectrum

In Islam, belief in the Day of Judgement is one of the six articles of faith and is pivotal to the Islamic concept of accountability. The present life in this world is not the goal and it is the hereafter that is the focus. This means that Muslims make an effort to live by the rulings of Islam and exercise consciousness of Allah in making all decisions as they will held accountable for all their doings, whether in accordance with Shari’a or otherwise.

Allah, the Most High, created mankind. Man has been sent to Earth for a certain time. The free will given to man by Allah enables him to use it in doing good and useful deeds, obtaining knowledge, and worshipping Him. If man lays waste to these blessings and bounties without taking any advantage of them, undoubtedly he will be held responsible for them on the Last Day.

It was narrated from Ibn Mas’ood that the Prophet ﷺ said: “The son of Adam will not be dismissed from before his Lord on the Day of Resurrection until he has been questioned about five things: his life and how he spent it, his youth and how he used it, his wealth and how he earned it and how he disposed of it, and how he acted upon what he acquired of knowledge.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2422; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1969)

For that reason, man must be conscious of his responsibilities. He must feel a responsibility to Allah on the Resurrection Day. Consequently Allah, the Almighty, will hold him to account on that Day for all of his doings in Dunya.

In today’s day and age, with the ever-rising Fitnah surrounding us and the message of Islam being lost amidst its path, a reminder of its fundamentals can be the solution to bringing all those dissolved in the glamour of the world back to their real calling. The Spectrum of Responsibility and Accountability, the current theme on the YC Blog, focuses on identifying a Muslim’s responsibilities in this world and what the effects of his/her decisions will be on the Hereafter. A Muslim will be held accountable for the decisions he or she made, and will be rewarded accordingly.

Ultimately, it is heaven we are striving for. Are we truly being ambassadors of Islam or are we so consumed by this world and its illusions that we cannot recognise the path leading to Allah?

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Promises: A Spoken Bond

Promises: A Spoken Bond

By Mariam Imran

“Oh, come on. You know you can trust me, Sarah. I won’t tell anyone”, I hastily replied on the phone, aware that I wasn’t intending to keep my promise. A pang of guilt washes over me. I was going to break a promise. “It’s just one silly old promise, it doesn’t mean anything”, I try to reassure myself. After what seemed like an eternity, I hear Sarah’s quavering voice on the other end, as she begins to trust me with her personal information. It takes not more than a minute after our phone call that I punch in another friend’s number, and spare no time to tell her: “YOU CAN NOT BELIEVE WHAT SARAH JUST TOLD ME!”

Sadly, we live in a day and age where this is an everyday practice. Keeping your word is something that is looked at with surprise, rather than being a norm. We have stopped recognizing it as a sin, rather justifying it with childish arguments such as “Well, everyone does it. What’s the big deal?” This has caused us great harm, not only on an individual level but as a society too.

As a Muslim and a Believer, it is our responsibility to take care of the promises that we make. We should recognize this as a spoken bond, one that should be kept under all circumstances. Our religion very strongly emphasizes on keeping promises and not breaking each other’s trust. It has gone so far to declare such people as hypocrites, which is indeed a very strong and harsh term.

“There are three signs of a hypocrite: whenever he speaks, he lies; whenever he makes a promise, he breaks it; and whenever he is trusted, he betrays his trust. (Al-Bukhari)”

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It is indeed quite frightening to think that one may fall in such a dangerous category if he or she doesn’t keep his or her word. In the book of guidance, we find Allah educating us about holding our oaths sacred in these words:

“Fulfill the Covenant of God when you have entered into it, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them; indeed you have made God your surety; for God knows all that you do.} (An-Nahl 16:91)

There are a few sections in the Quran that portray the moral makeup of the faithful and many of them put fulfilling promises in the center of the meritorious traits of the faithful, indicating how necessary it actually is.

If we don’t take good care of this and fail to claim responsibility to fulfill our promises, then the repercussions of doing so will indeed be grave. People will stop trusting each other and will eye each other with suspicion. The community will harbor negativity and nurture mistrust, doubt and fear. The consequences are not limited to this world, but also the hereafter. Allah will question every vow that we failed to keep, about all the people we deceived. But indeed, we can’t deceive Allah. Allah says:

“And fulfill (every) covenant. Verily! the covenant, will be questioned about” (al-Isra’ 17:34)

Without further delay, we should all make it a point to take responsibility and not abuse the trust of other people. We should fear Allah and the Day of Judgement, because one day all of our broken promises will come forth to testify against us.

The Best Version of Me

Naivity

I recall once while on the road with friends, someone mentioned it was almost Maghreb and she hadn’t completed her evening azkaar yet. Another friend sadly remarked how often she has been missing them lately.

I was shocked.
How could someone miss their daily azkaar (supplications)?!
That’s a believer’s essential! And here this ‘practising Muslimah’ is telling us she’s missed them often? I tried hard not to judge her, but man was that a struggle..

Fast forward a few years, and many veils of naivety later, I find myself applauding when I realise I managed to get almost all my morning and evening azkaar done on time for a single day. Not sure if I should laugh at my old self for thinking I could always be that regular in my ibadah, or mourn the fact that I am no more.

Or wait..I could dare aim to be ‘me’ again?

And just like that, of everything that I have ever planned for on ‘new years’ ‘new semesters’ and all those new beginnings, this year I have found the most inspirational one; being that best old version of me!
All of us miss and reminisce different phases of our lives; the cheerfulness of school days, the regular journaling during a certain summer break, baking something new every week, regular contact with family during a certain semester, daily recitation of a certain portion of Qur’an for a few years and whatnot! While life and times may change, we will always have it in us- if nothing else- to be what we strove so hard to be. It took us a lifetime each to achieve all that, how could we let it all just go? Let’s revive our own legacy, and not let our struggles and ambitions die again.

Remember, remember..

Verily, the reward of deeds performed depends on the last actions. (1) 

This year, I note down the habits and hobbies from my past that I feel were the best of me and work on making them a part of my life again.
Take a pleasant ride down your memory lane and pick your favourites too; your top 5 or random 10 and let’s resolve again to be the best versions of ourselves! 

joy this season's good vibes

Bonus guidelines for making your list and charting an action plan from the man best in habits and deeds, ﷺ:

“Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.” (2)

Wassalam!

References:
(1) Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab ar-Raqaa’iq (Book on Softening of the Hearts) no. 6493
(2) Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab ar-Raqaa’iq (Book on Softening of the Hearts) no. 6464

The Simplest Life Hack to Track Your Life

By Sara Ahmad

planner 2018

I learned something in 2017- the importance of tracking my life and my habits. Before I started doing this, I felt that time was flowing through my fingers and I was just standing there, unable to grasp it. I felt that I was declining spiritually, mentally and physically but had no way of determining at what pace and why. I wanted to take snapshots of my life at different times and analyse them. I started making complicated timetables to keep an hourly log of every single thing I was doing in a day. I thought it would help me see how productive or how lazy I was. Well, that didn’t turn out to be sustainable… I quit doing that in less than a week. Then I tried a daily journal, but again, it was hard to keep up with and it was hard to ‘measure’ my weekly and monthly progress from pages and pages of written information.

Just as 2017 started, I found a table calendar (the kind which has blank boxes for every day) which unintentionally evolved into one of the best tracking methods I have ever used. I started recording the habits which were most important to me. For example, I wanted to see how much of the Quran I recited in a month, so I chose a pink color and added ‘juz 1’ on the first day and then ‘juz 2’ the next day. If I did not recite, I left the box blank.  After a month, I looked at all the pink ink and was able to see how much I recited and also measure how many days I wasn’t able to recite and figure out if any patterns existed. I used different colours for other habits:

Purple- dawah activities

Green- exercise

Orange- money spent

Blue- times I hung out with my friends

Red- habits I wanted to get rid of but still ended up engaging in them

Black- general activities like studying, spending time with family etc.

I thought I would eventually stop using this method, but it’s so easy that I still haven’t! By the end of 2017, I had a clear idea about which areas I had made progress in and which I still need to work on. For 2018, I’ve been using the same method on a planner instead of a table calendar and it’s working just as well Alhumdulillah. I hope these ideas benefit you in some way and that you are able to look back at your week/month/year/decade and give yourself a reason to smile!

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

“O you who have believed, fear Allah and let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow – and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” (Surah Al Hashr:18)

 

 

The Muslim Mama’s Quick Guide to Goal Planning (without losing your sanity)

By Fatima Asad

If you’re like me, you despise seeing those tacky New Year’s resolution jokes on your newsfeed.  This one really irks my soul: “My New Year’s resolution is to follow through with my last year’s resolutions.”  Another one that sadly represents the majority of wishful go-getters is: “Thanks for not laughing at my absurdly unattainable New Year’s resolutions.”  It is not simply the cheesiness of these jokes that bothers me- but our apathetic attitude towards a chance to improve the quality of our lives.  Yes, December 31st is just a number and there’s no magic or daleel behind it but choose Ramadan or Muharram as your “New Year” if you please.  We as imperfect beings strongly desire a line – a start/finish line that will allow us to start afresh; however, it is only that- a desire.  Now, as a mother and wife, my plate of short-term and long-term planners is often overflowing and that liberating line is much needed to reorganise and get a new start.  

Let me throw in another cliche: “If you fail to plan, you have planned to fail.” This is the one quote that I can confirm from experience is very true.  The day that I have not planned is the day I get an inner panic attack either before or after breakfast.  Mothers are all too familiar with the overwhelming feeling of disorganisation and are pros at masking it with an air of “I know exactly what I’m doing.”  My to-do basket tends to pile up for days at a time, I am guilty of shoving clutter in the wrong closets, I miss my spa appointments regularly, I’ll let the kids have pyjama day (or week) when laundry needs to be done, and I’m definitely guilty of not straightening out the bed sheet before I spread the duvet elegantly on top.  Why am I divulging my secrets? Because I want the other moms out there to know that: Girls, it’s okay to not meet society’s standards every single day.  It really is!  We have too much going on to worry about which total stranger or judgemental relative we need to please today.  

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Believe it or not there’s a method to our clumsy madness as mothers.  We have far greater goals to focus on.  These goals don’t just include fitness or diet goals- that was the easy part.  As mothers, we have to make multiple planners for each new year: for me, for the kids, and for the husband (he can safely be kept under the children’s category).  It’s fun to plan a family trip or which new colour to paint the bedroom wall; however, as Muslim mothers, our goals for the year should reach far beyond those walls.  The purpose of setting goals is to improve the quality of our lives, as is pleasing to the Lord Almighty and to reach ihsaan (excellence) in all our actions and emotions.  Notice, there is a difference between excellence and perfection.  A chase for perfection will always end in failure- doing everything with ihsaan means I’ve given it my personal best.  

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I won’t lie; each year, the burden of raising little humans gets heavier on my shoulders as I know I must set goals that are wholesome for not only my family but also for the future of our Ummah.  These goals include focusing on categories such as Islamic Studies, Quran Studies, homeschooling (did I mention I’m also the teacher?), diet and exercise, social activities and life skills.  

Here are some gentle reminders for my fellow Muslim mothers (and fathers) as they begin or revise their goal planning:

  • Focus on your ultimate goal of reaching Jannatul Firdous
  • Renew your intention (Why and for whom are you doing this?)
  • Begin everything with Bismillah (Yes, even as you wash the dishes) and it will turn the action into worship
  • Let go of perfection and aim for YOUR very best
  • Stop worrying about people’s opinions! Do what seems right for your family
  • You’re still an awesome mother if you don’t do every project on Pinterest
  • Stick to the sunnah- remember Islam makes your life easier!
  • Read/listen about the great women in Islam and how they focused on their families, personal lives and their deen
  • You need to have a contemporary role model who inspires you (public figure, fellow mother, coworker)
  • Choose friends that bring positive energy in your life and help you grow instead of judging you (If you can have her over without having to change the kids out of those pyjamas, she’s a keeper!)
  • Don’t go through goal planning and implementing alone! Have a strong network to talk to (husband, friend, relative)

Life was not meant to be lived perfectly, and this year will be no exception.  We will make mistakes- lots of them.  It’s important to make NEW mistakes and learn from the old, inshaAllah.  

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2018 – My Little Bit

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Two weeks into 2018 already, yet I still keep coming across posts and images of how to make your 2018 better. “Fresh start”, most of them say. While browsing through such posts, I asked myself my plans for this year, “Do I want to make huge intricate plans for the whole year? Or shall I just let it be this time? Or I can do the usual and keep on planning quarterly?”

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While deep in thought, my mind went back to Youth Club’s annual meeting and the advice given to us, “be that person whose motto in life is chalo koi gal nai*”, based on the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad SAW: “Shall I not inform you of whom the Fire is unlawful and he is unlawful for the Fire? Every person who is near (to people), amicable, and easy (to deal with).'” [Jami-at-Tirmidhi, Book 37, Hadith 2676, Grade: Hasan] And that’s when I decided, if nothing else, I’ll try my best to be that person this year inshaAllah. 

I know it’s not as easy as it sounds but I also know the need of such people in our world is great. Allah SWT knew it’s not a small thing therefore He kept the reward so great, imagine being forbidden on that Big Fire! Isn’t it motivation enough?

It happens numerous times a day that during your dealings with others, you want to tell them off. Or even if you’re not in a position to do that, then at least show it by your expressions. The servants would annoy you by one thing or the another, the kids will make you angry, your parents will frustrate you, the colleagues will do it all wrong, the boss will scold you for no reason, your in-laws will be unhappy with you, the shopkeeper will give you the wrong product, the kid next door will break your favourite vase, your relatives will try to interfere in your life and your neighbour will throw the trash in front of your door. If you can live through all of that and not heat up at every instance mentioned, then that is indeed an achievement.

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It’s hard but not impossible when you keep the reward in mind (paste it on your bedroom cupboard, perhaps). There is already a lot of hate in this world, a lot of grief and depression. If you and I try to be that little agent of change, only by changing ourselves, only by being a bit more approachable and easy-going for the people around us, imagine the amount of love and peace we’d be able to spread through that. Think of that person in your life who you can go to with anything on your mind knowing they won’t blow up, that they’d be there, imagine if there were more of such people, this sad world would become a little happier. And if I can help spark that in 2018, then I will not consider my year wasted!

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*Meaning: it’s okay

 

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