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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)

 

 

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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.  

Apply now!_2

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

 

Chapter 11: The Waning Dusk (series)

You

Myth: People will think I’ve gone bananas

(Yes, they will think that but they’ve got others on the radar to label bananas too. So, you’ll soon be last season.)

Someone asked me some time ago: “What’s the best thing that ever happened to you?”

And I told them: “The one-year gap I took from my studies.”


 

To me, it felt like being chucked out of one convent into the other.

I joined extensive Quran classes in the summer of 2009 because I had nothing else better to do than to wait for my medical college aptitude test results. And as I surveyed the hall, I could see spoilt brats like myself all around. No, I wasn’t dragged here– I had only decided to do something different that summer. And since it was a one-year Quran course, I had all the intentions of leaving right after I get accepted to one of the many universities I had applied to.

I don’t know why I felt the compulsion to compare it with my convent school. Maybe because it was run by women and they had an aura of dignity around them. But this one taught me more in a year than those 5 years of schooling.

Long story short– I got my acceptance letter. And so did many of my friends in this new place and I saw them dropping out one by one to pursue their higher education. I was in a serious dilemma. From my first day, after the tafsir of the first verse of Al-Fatihah, I knew this course wouldn’t be as easy to leave as I had thought it would be. You can’t just turn your back on the Quran and expect a world of goodness waiting for you out there. It’s a lose-lose situation to deliberately wrench yourself out of the Mercy of Allah (His Book) after being in it.

I had already made up my mind. But I consulted people anyway just to gauge the general reaction and to brace myself for it when I dropped the bomb. It’s funny how people love to steer the way you should live and the choices you should make. And it’s unfortunate that we let them.

What really helped me make my biggest career decision was this verse:

Say, “With the grace of Allah and with His mercy (this book has been revealed). So they should rejoice in it. It is much better than that which they accumulate.” (10:58)

(I’ll try not to complain again how literal translation doesn’t sound as dramatic.)

If Allah says the Quran is better than whatever it is that you are after, then it IS better. Period. And rejoiced in it- I did. Now, I’m one year short of being an engineer from one of the top universities (of which I take no credit for). Cherry on top- people who were critical earlier came to respect the decision and some of them are enrolled in the same course, and they can’t agree enough that they should have done it earlier.

So, if you have Ramadan resolutions (or any others) that you would like to live on, but are afraid of the skepticism, take that leap of faith anyway. Life’s too short to think what people would think.

20 things to do before you’re 25

20 things to do before you’re 25

By Nasser Ijaz Moghal

1. Memorize the Quran

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2. Go a week without technology

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3. Get Married

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4. Go for Hajj and Umrah (WITH YOUR WIFE)

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5. Travel

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6. Start a business

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7. Get a Shahadah

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8. Write a book

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9. Get a hijamah

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10. Read the Quran with understanding

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11. Buy a gift for your parents

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12. Become a shepherd

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13. Stop and admire the creation of Allah

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14. Learn Arabic

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15. Go camping in the woods

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16. Teach for free

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17. Do archery while horse riding

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18. Learn swimming

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19. Spend a week in the company of a scholar

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20. Go for A’itekaaf in the month of Ramadan

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