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11 Business Tips for the Muslim Youth

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Productive Muslim

[Productive Youth] 11 Business Tips for the Muslim Youth | Productive MuslimSeeking a lawful earning is our duty as Muslims and utilizing the energy to strive for such a living is a means of worship and a path to blessed monetary rewards. Muslim youth can take some productive steps to learn about business in Islam, invest in great ideas and generate some profit. This article aims to offer such steps, with practical tips on how to achieve them.

Starting out in any business can be very daunting. In the case of youth, your parents may become worried about your financial future. This, in addition to many uncertainties, only serves to increase your limiting beliefs, until you are ready to quit even before you start! When you actually make it to launch period and beyond, you continue to face challenges every day.

 

A productive business is purpose-driven, with goals and outcomes for this world and the hereafter. It is a business that earns you lawful profit, personal fulfillment and adds value to your life as well as that of others. But it is not without its fair share of tests.

“O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent” [Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 29].

Why Engaging in Business is Important

“The truthful, trustworthy merchant is with the Prophets, the truthful, and the martyrs.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]

Doing business is important for several reasons, ranging from personal to professional. This is especially true for Muslim youth. Some of these reasons are:

  1. Utilizing knowledge and energy in a productive way
  2. Using money in a productive way
  3. Exploring passion, skills and creative talents in a beneficial way
  4. Benefiting the Ummah (Muslim consumers) with specialized goods and services
  5. Creating jobs for others (within an Islamic environment and in accordance with Islamic principles).
  6. Providing opportunities for halal trading and ethical investment options
  7. As a means of livelihood: earning provisions from halal sources
  8. Opportunity for da’wah in the community by providing excellent prices, products and services
  9. Generating profit to help the growth of the Muslim economy
  10. As a means of worship and a permissible way of life by building a framework governed by the shari’ah

Steps to Doing Business Productively

Although there is no simple success formula for setting up and running a business, you can take productive steps when starting out, and with each step as you progress. With these steps, you can achieve a lot with your business and build a strong connection with Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He).

1. Sincere Intention
Consider your business an act of worship, so every action is done sincerely for Allah’s sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) sake and according to the shari’ah.

The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention…” [Sahih Bukhari & Muslim]

Try it:

Check yourself with these three questions:

  1. Why am I really doing this?
  2. Is it purely for Allah’s sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) pleasure?
  3. Is it to gain popularity or conform to societal pressures?


2. Perform Salatul Istikhara
Pray for divine guidance. Familiarize yourself with this prayer and utilize it for every business decision you are faced with, no matter how small it may seem.

Try it:

  • Memorize the wording and understand the meaning of the supplication.
  • Consult your trusted others, e.g. mentors and family members, about the options.
  • Put your trust in Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He).


3. Seek Expert Advice (Shura)
Shura is the process of making decisions by consultation and deliberation among those who have an interest in the matter on which a decision is to be taken, or others who can help them to reach such a decision.

“And those…whose affair is [determined by] consultation among themselves[Qur’an: Chapter 42, Verse 38].

Try it:

  • Seek the opinion of knowledgeable people, experts and mentors regarding the knowledge required.
  • Note the different ideas and issues brought forth and perspectives given.
  • Make an informed decision based on ideas offered.


4. Keep Learning
Study the Islamic principles of running a business and then familiarize yourself with the state laws, as well as specific guidelines of the industry you are going into. Invest in your learning and stay updated on new developments. Ignorance is not an excuse!

A time will come when one will not care how one gains one’s money, legally or illegally.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Try it:

  • Register with a library and set up a personal one at home.
  • Subscribe to journals, magazines and expert blogs, such as Islamic investment network.
  • Research and attend reputable business trainings.


5. Consider Your Finances
Whether you have a big or small budget, invest wisely and avoid wastage, debt and interest (riba). The general rule is that all financial arrangements that the contracting parties agree to follow are lawful, as long as they do not include an element of riba.

Rather than adopting the concept of interest, Islamic finance is based on ownership of assets and the sharing of risk, found in these two concepts: Musharakah and mudarabah. The two basic categories of financing are: 1) profit-and-loss-sharing (PLS), also called participatory modes, i.e., musharakah and mudarabah and 2) purchase and hire of goods or assets and services on a fixed-return basis, i.e., murabaha, istisna’a, salam and leasing. This is unlike Western finance, which is largely based on principles of interest, debt and risk transfers.

Allah is Pure and, therefore, accepts only that which is pure…” [Sahih Muslim]

Try it:

  • Seek ways of securing personal or halal loans rather than riba-based loans. Most Islamic loans are partnerships or joint ventures, but are called loans because they accomplish pretty much the same thing conventional loans do.
  • Explore all buying options and search for good deals before hiring people or making purchases.
  • Work on becoming financially sound and seek expert financial advice when you need it.


6. Explore New Ideas and Opportunities
Fuse your passion and interests with your knowledge and existing skills and abilities. Utilise this in providing value in the form of unique products and services to others.

Try it:

  • Use a Mind Map to generate ideas.
  • Ask and listen out for what people around you need and conduct surveys.
  • Be on the lookout for different opportunities.


7. Find Balance
Take care of your body, mind and soul. Find time for your spiritual nourishment, physical well-being, social relations as well as emotional fulfillment.

Try it:

  • Use ProductiveMuslim’s Daily Taskinator to optimize your time daily for different activities.
  • Write out your business vision.
  • Make each action intentional and directed towards your vision and goals.


8. Commit to Excellent Standards
Focus on your character and the great value you can provide through your business by aiming for excellence. Follow diligently in the business steps of the trusted one, al-Amin ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He was known to be honest by everyone, a fact not even the disbelievers could deny, and had a high moral character. In fact, Lady Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid ra?yAllahu 'anha (may Allah be pleased with her) hired him based on his reputation as an honest and reliable person. His excellent qualities were experienced first-hand by her servant, Maysarah, who accompanied him on the trade journey and later recounted the details to his mistress.

Try it:

  • Seek ways to add value, more value, and yet more value to your business.
  • Take account of your general character and strive to work on your weaknesses.
  • Read how the Prophet ?allallahu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) lived his life as a tradesman and Lady Khadijah ra?yAllahu 'anha (may Allah be pleased with her) as a successful business owner.


9. Find Networking Opportunities
From local events such as coffee mornings, to online groups and masterminds such as those found on Facebook and LinkedIn, you can reach out to Muslims with similar values to share ideas and collaborate in meaningful ways.

Try it:

  • Search for a business group or create one.
  • Be an active participant.
  • Connect with peers, experts, mentors and coaches for advice and support.


10. Embrace Failure
Nothing will ever go exactly as planned, so do your best and learn from each mistake. Our world, and especially the business world, is never all about positive experiences; rather it has some glittery aspects and many rusty ones.

Try it:

  • Remember that you are not perfect.
  • Ask yourself: “How can I do better next time and what changes can I make now?”
  • Read about business success stories that started out as failures for inspiration and motivation.


11. Purify Your Wealth
Beyond spending on basic livelihood, you are obliged to pay zakat if applicable to your level of wealth. It purifies your wealth and gives you the opportunity to empower other Muslims. Just as seeking wealth is important, so is giving from your wealth. Doing so frees you from the greed of simply accumulating money for your worldly desires.

Try it:

  • Aim to make your business a life-changing one for your target audience.
  • Give charity, discounts, freebies, scholarships and mentoring opportunities.
  • Be humble and thankful for the opportunity to share your knowledge, skills and services. Say a heartfelt ‘Alhamdulillah‘ each day.

Let’s Call it a Business

There are many examples of Muslim youth engaging in productive businesses of various kinds, from coaching and consulting to catering and retail. Videoblogger and filmographer Ali Ardekani (aka Baba Ali) is just one example of such success stories. His businesses include game development, a Muslim film company and a Muslim matrimonial site.

As a young man or woman, having a business is an opportunity to become a better Muslim because you are tested with upholding sincerity in all of your dealings as well as fulfilling the rights of others. The framework of such a business is governed by Islamic law in a similar way that most parts of your life as a Muslim are. So, as much as using your business to earn lawful wealth and enjoy using that wealth is your right, you must also ensure that you seek success in the hereafter through it. After all, everything is a test: your life, your business and your earnings.

”Your wealth and your children are but a trial, and Allah has with Him a great reward” [Qur'an: Chapter  64, Verse 15].

“Indeed there is a fitnah for every Ummah, and the Fitnah for my Ummah is wealth.” [Tirmidhi]

Do you own a business? Are you in the process of developing one? Do you have a business idea? Regardless of the stage you are at, please share some of your productive business steps and experiences below!


About the Author:

Amina Edota is passionately committed to inspiring other young Muslims find opportunities in their lives — to think better, feel better and live better — and to have a better connection with Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) through those opportunities. With a background in Science and Education, Amina loves to explore ideas and make things happen. Through work and other interests, she has enjoyed interacting closely with people of all age groups from pre-school to seniors.She has also mentored young people from different backgrounds. Find her at www.YouthlyHub.com for some inspiration on how to embrace the opportunities in your youth.

 

PAFFREL ELECTION MONITORING 2014

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ALL CEYLON YMMA CONFERENCE being a founder member of PAFFREL will take part AT THIS ELECTION TOO,
YMMA will be covering Colombo Central and Colombo North,
"OPEN TO ALL COMMUNITY AND GENDER" all member and CIVIL society interested in taking part in the Monitoring process, CONTACT VP Mr Saleem.
We need Impartial people from independent civil society to come forward and contribute to the rule of law and make sure a FREE AND FAIR ELECTION.
National President
YMMA
Contact # 0777309458 or 0772269059
email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Productive Party Ideas for Sisters

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Productive Party Ideas for Sisters | Productive Muslim

Photo by Martin Bartosch: flickr[dot]com/photos/30544210@N04/

Any gathering that we organize is incomplete and lack luster without barakah from Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He), which descends on people who remember Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) in their gatherings. Here, we explore a few ideas to run a productive party for sisters.

As women, we can have our social calendar planned a month ahead, from teas to luncheons and gatherings. But, as a Productive Muslimah, we need to go a step farther and organise “Productive” Parties as Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) says:
“I am with my slave when he thinks of Me and I am with him when he mentions Me. For if he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in a gathering, I mention him in superior gathering. If he approaches Me by a hand’s width, I approach him by an arm’s length; I approach him by two arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I hasten to him swiftly.” [Hadith Qudsi]
So let’s see how we can strategically accomplish a productive party worthy of a Productive Muslimah.

Fresh Ideas for a Productive Party

  1. Organise the party around an Islamic theme
    When you sit down to plan it, think of a relevant topic that would be of interest and benefit to you and your friends. If you are stuck for ideas, you could ask for their opinions and conduct a poll to see if they’d like to discuss a Qur’anic verse, a seerah or a hadith.
  2. Make them potluck parties
    The mercy of Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) is such that once these “productive parties” begin, the thirst for more becomes overwhelming. In rushing to organise and execute them more often, the cooking and hosting can become overwhelming. You can save a lot of time and reduce stress by cutting back on the menu planning. Conducting potlucks is a great solution to achieve this. Let the hostess offer her house and cutlery, while the rest of the sisters can volunteer to bring food and drinks.
  3. Fun for kids
    This is a good opportunity to instil in children the love of gatherings for the sake of Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He). Make it fun for them by bringing crayons and colouring books of Arabic letters or the names of Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He). This will keep them busy during “deen time”. Reward the kids with stickers for their craftsmanship and their good behaviour during “deen time”.
  4. Hold these parties at the house of a disabled or chronically ill sister
    Sometimes we have amidst us a sister who is disabled or chronically ill and cannot move out of her home. If she so desires, conduct these parties at her house. Organise and delegate the work among you. Some sisters can bring food, while others can help organize the house and the guests. Some sisters I know in Kansas are doing this regularly. In fact, when I moved out of Kansas, they even held my “Productive Farewell Party” at her place. It was enjoyable for her too for it gave her the opportunity to meet people. Her children also enjoyed it for they could invite their friends too. Best of all, we remembered Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) and also made dua for her.
  5. A productive party to celebrate the birth of a new baby or a new bride
    We often hold parties before or after the birth of a new baby and before a friend is getting married. This is one of the best times to gather together and learn what the Qur’an and sunnah tells us about being a productive mother and wife.There is always something new to learn, even for those who already have many kids and have been married for some time. All the sisters could get together and compile a small handy book on the hadiths about motherhood or wifehood, and give it to the new-mother-to-be or the new bride.
  6. Impromptu productive party
    We don’t always plan before meeting. It can often be a “spur of the moment”, such as a warm day that is fit for spending the day with a friend. Even these can be made productive.You can share whatever new you learned, such as perhaps a hadith that touched your heart. You could also discuss some ayah or surah in the Qur’an or share a new dua that you are learning, or maybe even share an experience of how coming closer to Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He) changes you and brightens our lives. With the convenience of mobile devices and the internet, you could even play a lecture video on YouTube.

Hosting a Productive Party

  1. Inform the invitees about the topic before the party
    A friend of mine wanted to have a discussion on how to give da’wah to non-muslims. When she invited us to her house, she asked us to look into the topic and come up with our own list of “Tips to Perform Da’wah”. The discussion was well organized and beneficial, as everyone had something to say and the amount we learnt from each other was incredible.
  2. Eat before the “deen time”
    It’s always better to have your lunch and finish praying your salah before starting the “deen time”. Enjoy the food first, and before time starts to run out, settle down with your cup of tea and dessert to commence the “deen time”. This will help you focus more on the topic of discussion without the tantalizing aromas of the food or rumbles of an empty stomach to distract you.
  3. Have a format to the “deen time”
    Always begin with dua and send blessings upon the Messenger of Allah ?allall?hu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of All?h be upon him) and recite the dua:اللَّهُمَّ أَرِنَا الْحَقّ حَقًّا وَارْزُقْنَا اِتِّبَاعه وَأَرِنَا الْبَاطِل بَاطِلًا وَارْزُقْنَا اِجْتِنَابهO Allah! Show us the truth as truth and give us ability to follow it and show us the falsehood as falsehood and give us the ability to avoid it. [Iyyaka Nasta'een]
  4. Listen to the speaker.
    Don’t interrupt the speaker. This leads to wasting time and also leads the gathering away from the topic being discussed. Instead, keep your questions ready. Ask them your question once the speaker ends her talk and continue the discussion. And always end with the dua:سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَبِحَمْدِكَ أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ أَسْتَغْفِرُكَ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْكَPurity belongs to You. O Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He), with Your praises, I bear witness that there is non-worthy of worship except You. I seek forgiveness from You and I repent to You [Tirmidhi]
  5. A knowledgeable person whom you can listen to
    If you have some one knowledgeable amongst your friends to lead the discussion, then very good. If not, you could play Islamic lectures on YouTube. Alhamdulillah, there are many great speakers to learn from for inspiration and to increase your knowledge on the relevant topic.
  6. Give something to take back
    Give some related duas or books for your guests to take back. One sister always gave us books at the end of her productive party. I still have the book with me and use it often to recite or look up duas. If you are organising or delivering the talk, then you can print duas on a pretty piece of stationary and give it to the sisters attending. They could stick it on their fridge to learn it, and even pass it on to someone else once they’ve memorized it.
  7. Have a schedule
    We have a pretty organised way in which we run our “kitty parties”. To make the most out of your productive party, you too will need to apply organisational skills and plan ahead to schedule your productive parties. For example, you could plan printing out a roster with the topics to discuss and the hostess name on top. This way, everyone can easily stay on track with the topic when they arrive, take notes, and even bring it home with them as reminders.

Subhan Allah! I always wonder, at the mercy of Allah sub??nahu wa ta'?la (glorified and exalted be He), that the moment you intend to come near Him, He opens up so many avenues for you and they are all so easy.
All you need to do first is make the sincere intention :) So make one now and plan a productive party today!
Do you have any other productive party ideas for sisters? Share them with the sisters of your ummah by leaving your tips in the comments below.

About the Author:

Sana Gul is a mother of two and a student , learning the Quran and the Seerah. She works for Islamic Lifestyle, a group aiming to help people live their lives according to the Quran and Sunnah. She also writes for the blog islamiclifestyle4u.wordpress.com.

   

[Productive Thinking Series - Part 6] Understanding Self-Sabotage

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[Productive Thinking Series - Part 6] Understanding Self-Sabotage | Productive Muslim

Photo by Vic: flickr[dot]com/photos/59632563@N04/

This is the sixth of a series of eight articles on ‘Productive Thinking’. The series aims to address the challenges that Muslims face on many different levels when it comes to productivity. These levels include: the mental, emotional and physical levels. This series will tackle thinking and mindset on the mental level; negative emotions like anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, fear, etc. on the emotional level; and habits on the physical level. (Part 1Part 2Part 3 | Part 4Part 5)

This article will cover the concept, patterns and reasons for self-sabotage, a hindrance to productivity.

 

What Is Self-Sabotage?

Self-sabotage is any thought, feeling, action and/or behaviour that holds you back from achieving your goals. There is usually a conflict between your conscious desires and your unconscious patterns of thinking, feeling and behaviour.

Sometimes, it seems like there is something holding you back from reaching your goals and succeeding. Sometimes, people might even think they are being affected by magic or that someone is sabotaging their success.

Manifestations of Self-Sabotage In Your Life

Self-sabotage can occur in your work or profession, i.e. you do not go for that promotion or position you know is going to make a difference in your life. It could also affect your studies or business, when you do not put yourself out there or market your products and services that you know people need and can benefit from. It could be in your health where you keep starting and stopping, again and again, that exercise schedule or meal plan, thus preventing yourself from gaining muscle or shedding those last few kilos.

Just when you are about to have a breakthrough, something happens that forces you to start all over again. It is that resistance in starting a project or typing the first paragraph. It is that sleepiness and yawning that takes over you every time you sit down and work. You keep over-eating. People keep calling you, they keep interrupting you. Things keep getting in the way.

But no, it is you who keeps getting in your own way. It is you not saying no to the distractions. It is you not saying yes to opportunities and breakthroughs. It is you not making those decisions that need to be made.

“What comes to you of good is from Allah , but what comes to you of evil, [O man], is from yourself…” [Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 79]

“And whatever strikes you of disaster – it is for what your hands have earned; but He pardons much.” [Qur’an: Chapter 42, Verse 30]

You are not to blame and it is not your fault, but you are responsible. Make sure you understand the distinction between blaming yourself and taking responsibility. Blame and guilt are not healthy, responsibility is.

Nobody can change things for you; it has to come from your heart and from the inside. Once you make that commitment, take on that responsibility and decide that you are not willing to settle for mediocrity anymore, Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) will help you change anything you want.

“… Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…” [Qur’an: Chapter 13, Verse 11]

Are You Displaying Self-Sabotage Patterns?

The following are just a few common patterns of self-sabotage:

  • All the unconscious fear (See Part 4)
  • Indecision
  • Procrastination
  • Overwhelm
  • Wanting to always be right
  • Overeating
  • Tolerating mediocrity and Level 3 Living (See Part 2)
  • Not telling the absolute truth
  • Focusing on secondary goals
  • Doing things alone
  • Reinventing the wheel
  • Perfectionism*
  • Not saying ‘No’ to distractions
  • Not saying ‘Yes’ to opportunities
  • Controlling people
  • Critical judgement of self and others
  • Creating dramas and stories

*Make sure you understand the difference between striving for perfection and striving for excellence (ihsan), which is what we have been told to strive for.

Perfection is for our Creator alone, and only He sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) is Perfect and His Book is perfect. We are not, and will never be perfect. But we can be excellent! Our imperfection is perfection in itself because that is the way Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He) created us. If He wanted us to be different, He would have made us different. That, though, is a whole other discussion in itself.

I used to be proud of being a perfectionist.That was my identity: I am a ‘perfectionist’. This changed when someone I admire said: “You’re not a perfectionist, you’re an ‘imperfectionist’ because all you ever look for are imperfections, in things, in what you do, in people and in the world.”

Perfectionists do not have high standards, they have no standard. This is because their standards are so high that things are unachievable, so they might as well not have any standard. Moreover, perfection is subjective: Perfect according to whom? What is perfect for you might not be what others want and vice versa. There are many people who do not care about the small details over which you are obsessing.

“There is no worse sickness for the soul, O you who are proud, than this pretence of perfection.” — Rumi

Why Do We Self-Sabotage?

Outlined below are some reasons why we self-sabotage, but this article will focus on the first one:

1. Value conflicts
2. Behaviour profiles/styles
3. Unconscious fears
4. Low self-esteem or self-worth
5. Inability to manage our emotions

Before we continue, just note that some people might say that there is no such thing as self-sabotage, because behind every action or behaviour is a positive intention and that is a valid point. For example, procrastination is not self-sabotage because there is a good intention behind procrastination: to avoid disappointment and keep us safe from whatever fear lies behind the procrastination. Our unconscious is programmed to protect us and it always wants the best for us. We all have psychological needs that we want to fulfil and we can fulfil them in resourceful, sustainable above-the-line ways (Levels 1 and 2 — see Part 5) or we can get there by destructive below-the-line ways (Levels 3 and 4 — see Part 5). Self-sabotage can therefore be seen as fulfilling our needs and experiencing our values in below-the-line ways.

Value Conflicts

Our values guide our decisions and, hence, ultimately our destiny. If you are not getting the result that you want and not living the life that you want, then most certainly, your values are not aligned with your desired outcomes, goals and desired life.

Therefore, your values need to be aligned with your life vision and goals. Value elicitation and alignment is an important process to go through. I recently worked with someone who used to procrastinate and play small (regarding her business). It turned out that she was unconsciously equating “business success” with “no time for family” because her dad was always absent from home when she was young, and making time for her family was a value at the top of her list. As a result, she was unconsciously sabotaging her business success to fulfil her family values. The way to stop that is to elicit all her values, prioritise them, install them and align them with her goals.

Being unclear about your own values is the main reason why it is so hard for many people to make simple decisions: They do not know what they stand for and what is important to them. When you know what is most important to you and know what you stand for and what you are about, decision-making becomes much faster, easier and effortless.

What Are Values?

Values are words that represent what are important to us. They are usually unconscious and are linked to our beliefs about what is right and wrong, good and bad. Examples: Peace, security, family or money. Each one of them is of varying importance to different people.

Means Values vs. End Values

There is a difference between means values and end values. Using the examples above, the first two, peace and security, are ‘end values’ because they are emotional states we want to experience and that are important to us. The last two, family and money, are ‘means values’ because they are the means through which we choose to experience certain emotional states.

Example: Let’s say you ask some people what is most important to them and they answer ‘family’. If you then ask them ‘What does family give you or allow you to feel?’, they might say ‘love’. So, love is what they are really after, but family is a means through which they experience that love.

The same applies to money as a means value. Some people are after security through money; for some it is the ability to contribute and make a difference; for others it is power they want to experience as the end state. So, money is just a tool to allow you to reach your end.

The same goes if your job or profession is what you value. For some, through their work, they achieve significance and accomplishment. For others, it is satisfaction or for some, it might be connection with people, and so on.

When we gain clarity about our values and determine what is important to us, and identify our end values, the means are not that important anymore. We can then consciously design our vehicles or means to meet our end values. Problems arise when we confuse the means with the end.

‘Moving Towards’ vs. ‘Moving Away’ Values

‘Moving towards’ values are what we want to experience, and ‘moving away’ values are what we want to avoid feeling. It is important to be clear on your ‘moving towards’ and ‘away from’ values, so you know what you want to experience and not experience. This is important because human beings will do more to avoid pain than they will do to gain pleasure. For example, would you rather have one million dollars or lose an arm? I do not know about you, but I will keep my arm, thank you. And I think it will be the same for 99.9% of people. The pain of losing an arm is greater than the pleasure of gaining a million dollars (unless maybe one has a sick child that needs treatment worth a million dollars).

So, if you do not consciously decide what you want to move towards, then your ‘moving away from’ values could be the source of your self-sabotage. If you want to give da’wah, but your fear of rejection is stronger than your values of contribution and compassion for people, then you will avoid talking to people.

Examples of ‘Moving Towards’ Values

  • Being connected to Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He)
  • Excellence
  • Gratitude
  • Happiness
  • Love
  • Freedom
  • Courage
  • Contribution
  • Health, energy, vitality
  • Modesty
  • Respect
  • Growth
  • Creativity

Examples of ‘Moving Away From’ Values

  • Rejection
  • Humiliation
  • Overwhelm
  • Disrespect
  • Regret
  • Resentment
  • Frustration

There are also rules for both your ‘moving towards’ and ‘moving away from’ values. Rules are what must or must not happen for us to experience our values.

Examples of Rules for ‘Moving Towards’ Values:

To experience a connection with Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He), my personal rule is to put my right hand on my heart, close my eyes and take a deep breath; or it could be as simple as saying, ‘Alhamdulillah’.

Of course, we perform fard prayers and everything else, but what I am asking here is what is your rule for you to experience the emotional feeling of being connected to your Creator?

Compare the above rule with this one:
For me to experience connection with Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He), I have to pray all five fard prayers on time, with all the sunnah and nawafil prayers, all in complete khushu’, and I have to read five juz’ of Qur’an with perfect tajweed. That is going to be quite challenging for you to achieve on a daily basis to get your spiritual connection with Allah sub?anahu wa ta'ala (glorified and exalted be He)! Keep it simple.

Examples of Rules For ‘Moving Away From’ Values:

For me to experience rejection, people have to chase after me and throw shoes at me, while screaming with red angry faces, “NO!!!! No!!!!! We said NO!!!!! GET LOST!!!

Compare this to my old rule for experiencing rejection:
I used to experience rejection when people do not pay attention to what I was saying or look at me sideways. What are the chances of that happening if I am talking to a roomful of people? Probably even before I start talking!

The point here is to make it as easy as possible for you to experience ‘moving towards’ values and make it nearly impossible to experience your ‘moving away from’ values.

Real Values vs. Aspiring Values

Real values are what make you happy and congruent. Aspiring values are what you think you should be feeling, would look good, are what other people expect of you, and are usually set by your social environment. We took on the latter values because we never really consciously thought about them and ended up being stuck with them.

To identify your current real, operational values, rather than the ones you want to impress others with, look at your results. Think about the way you have been living your life for the past few weeks and months. What were the tangible results?

If you said contribution is important to you, how many hours have you spent during the past two weeks doing things for people you care about, sharing, donating your time and money to charities, volunteering at different organisations or mentoring people? If the answer is a big fat zero, then it is your aspiring value, something that sounds nice but you do not really care about or have not consciously decided yet to incorporate it into your life. You are not living your value.

The same goes for other values such as connection with your Creator, health, vitality, love, growth and gratefulness. How much time did you spend last week reading His book, talking to Him, exercising, eating healthy, spending time with family, learning something new or doing something that is outside your comfort zone, journalling or reflecting on His blessings?

At this stage, we are mainly concerned about awareness, because values exercises can take hours. In the meantime, just be aware that if you are in pain and feeling guilty about not taking certain actions, then they might not be important to you and you need to be okay with that. What are the values that are imposed on you? Often, society and friends dictate the things we should want or the career or profession we should pursue.

Once you have established that awareness, you can start to consciously decide on what is important to you and consciously find ways of living those values.

To sum up, we have learned what self-sabotage is and saw how value conflicts lead to self-sabotage. In the next article, we will look at different behaviour styles, another main cause of self-sabotage, and move on to practical strategies that will help you overcome self-sabotage, In sha Allah.

Now that you’ve gained a better understanding of self-sabotage, are you able to identify how it manifests itself in different areas of your life? Can you think of a situation where you did not achieve your goal due to self-sabotage? Which subtype of value conflicts do you need to work on the most? Please share your thoughts and experiences below!


Resources
The Value of Values (Almost complete value elicitation process)
http://www.cleanlanguage.co.uk/articles/articles/289/1/The-Value-of-Values-elicitation-with-NLP/Page1.html
Awaken the Giant Within
Steve Jobs – Difference between those who fail and those who succeed
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbOwTlHlQAs
Steve Jobs Talks About His Biggest Secret To Success
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jk3JC4bKao
Brené Brown – Why Your Critics Aren’t The Ones Who Count
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-JXOnFOXQk
(Will Smith on success, talent and skill)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikHyDwyqdRM

About the Author:

Thurein Win holds a Bachelor of Commerce specialising in Accounting and is a personal leadership and success coach, an NLP Master practitioner and an accredited Consultant and Trainer of Extended DISC (Behaviour Profiling).
His vision is to empower Muslim organisations and professionals with cutting edge behaviour change technologies to serve the greater good of humanity. He is passionate about personal leadership, early childhood education and holistic health and healing. He is also working with communities in developing leadership programs for Muslim and non Muslim youths. He can be contacted via his website and Facebook. His latest endeavour is an online support community for productivity-focused Muslims who want to connect, share ideas and support one another on their journey of learning and growing.

 

The Attitude of Gratitude – a Productive Muslim’s Approach to Life

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The Attitude of Gratitude - a Productive Muslim's Approach to Life | Productive Muslim

Photo by ccarlstead: flickr[dot]com/photos/cristic/

She opens her wardrobe. Two dozen dresses of red, yellow, orange, pink and you-name-it colours are hanging in there. After a cursory glance, she bangs the door shut. 
“Mom, I have nothing to wear for the party. I’ve been begging you to take me shopping since ages. You never listen to me. What do I do now?”

He is rummaging the fridge for the fourth time. Pizza, chocolate, ice-cream, fruits and juices are stuffed inside. He leaves the kitchen despondently. “There’s really nothing much to eat in here. Let’s go to the café for and have some decent food today.”
She wakes up with the same feelings of depression and dread. Thoughts of suicide are again floating in her mind. She is married to a handsome man, with two lovely kids, a home, and a car, everything most women would ask for. Apparently, life is perfect but there is “something” missing. It is just because she is not married to the man of her dreams.
He thinks his life sucks. He is 17. He has an iPhone, Core i7 Dell, $1,000 monthly pocket money but according to him, his life sucks. Unable to focus on his textbook, he slams it shut and starts pacing in the room as he thinks out aloud. 
“If my friend can own a Jaguar, why can’t I? Everything sucks.”
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

The Effect of Gratitude on Productivity

As we grow up, we get tuned to be ungrateful and not to see the blessings in our life. We focus all our energy and attention towards finding out what we lack. This is really ironic because the more we focus on scarcity, the more we tend to attract it.
You tend to get what you focus on. Being ungrateful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) adversely affects our productivity as the mind – which is in a negative state – can hardly contemplate the productivity in life. It goes without saying that a mind that is always looking for shortcomings is not the best tool for a productive lifestyle – be it spiritually, physically, socially, or emotionally.

Western Research vs. 1,400-Year-Old Message

Research has shown that through our thoughts and emotions, we emit powerful signals; these signals have the ability to attract signals of the same frequency. In other words, our positive signals will attract all other positive signals and same goes true for negative signals.
Whenever we are being ungrateful, we are in the negative state of mind and allowing the self-defeating thoughts to emit all sorts of negative energy from us. These can include thoughts such as “I never seem to have enough of money”, “I can never be healthy”, or “I can never find a practicing husband”. This will lead us to attract more negative energy.
Ultimately, we will end up becoming a black hole of despair and getting what we do not want. All the worries, arguments and frustration lead to more of the same. Considering all this, if we want to attract more signals of what we desire to experience, for example, peace, joy, harmony, ease, prosperity, etc., then why not choose our thoughts consciously and carefully? The more you focus on what you have in life, the more you will attract it. In other words, the more grateful you become, the more Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will bless you.
Today, non-Muslim researchers have discovered these secrets in the name of “natural laws”, while these “open secrets” were given to us in the Qur’an 1,400 years ago.
Psychologists and philosophers have painstakingly conducted researches and have come up with new theories and ideas. This so-called newly discovered information was presented to us in the Qur’an in no uncertain terms. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) promises that the grateful will be given more:
“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” [Qur'an: Chapter 14, Verse 7]
Robert A. Emmons from the University of California Davis and Micheal E McCullogh 
from the University of Miami conducted a long-term research project designed to study the effects of gratitude. Here are some of their findings:
  • In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis, exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared with those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.
  • Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress towards important personal goals over a two-month period compared with subjects in the other experimental conditions.
  • Grateful people reported higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress.
This is a readymade formula for attracting more of what you want in life.
Why is gratitude such a key ingredient in a successful life? Does it make sense now?
Gratitude helps us make the shift. Consequently, we are able to attract more good, more love, more joy, more money, as well as better health and blissful relationships in your life. Gratitude is one of the easiest and most frequently used methods to alter the signals one is emitting. What we need to master is the attitude of gratitude – the attitude of appreciating everything in life.

Surah al-Fatihah: A Pillar’s Pillar

It is well known that prayer, one of the pillars of Islam, is incomplete without Surah al-Fatihah. It begins with expressing our gratitude to our Lord for the countless blessings He has showered upon us. Have you ever noticed that many duas taught by the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also start with the same expression of gratitude, “Alhamdulillah”?
The day starts with the morning supplication, “Alhamdulillahilladhi ahyana…” (All praise and thanks be to the One who gave us life…). What is the significance of this? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) wants you to start your day in His remembrance. This can put us in a super charged state, attracting ample happiness and abundance in life.

The Practice of the Companions

Ibn Mas’ud raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “He who (on befalling a calamity) slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and follows the ways and traditions of the Days of Ignorance is none of us.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
It is reported that some of the Companions of the Holy Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) were grateful for the calamities that they faced and presented their gratitude to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for not letting something worse befell them. Now that is the attitude of gratitude!

Benefits of Gratitude

Gratitude and Focus
Gratitude is one of the quickest ways to regain our focus. When we are stuck, it means we are giving too much attention to something that does not really deserve our attention. Most so-called problems are usually mundane preoccupations and mental obsessions. We focus so much on one area to the exclusion of everything else that we create and then magnify our problems. Guess what? When we focus so much on what is not working, we cannot even access the part of our brain that provides us solutions. Surprised?
When something is not working, focus on what is working and say, “Alhamdulillahi Rabbil ‘Aalameen” (All praise to the Lord of the Universe) aloud. What do you think you are doing by saying this? It reminds us of the power of the Creator subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and reminds us to be thankful for all the good things that is happening without our knowledge. You are freeing your mind from those thoughts that bog you down and you are reinforcing strong positive beliefs that even if some areas are not working in life, others definitely are. In this way, you are able to think in a quicker and better way to resolve what is not working in life. Try it out yourself.
A Miraculous Phenomenon
Being grateful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) does wonders. When you acknowledge His Hand in your life, miracles happen. You may be in the middle of a problem and not have the least bit of knowledge about what would happen next, then suddenly the solution will dawn upon you. It is like when someone would return you an old loan that you completely forgot about, when you are in dire need of money; or when you are thinking about your loved ones and they give you a call right then. And when something you are longing to happen, finally happens.
Appreciate the Small to get Big
We usually ignore many things that are readily available to us; they are incredible reasons to be grateful. Our family, friends, body, health, job, leisure time, education, food, wisdom, smiles, children and even the painful lessons that life teaches us (and the list goes on) are tremendous blessings to be grateful for. If you do not have the same feeling, just close your eyes and imagine one of these blessings vanishing from your life. Take a break from reading this and do it, seriously. How does that feel? This is exactly why you need to be thankful every moment, each day.
“And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.” [Qu'ran: Chapter 14, Verse 34]

Steps to Being More Grateful

It is a pity that since childhood we are tuned to have lust for more and never to be satisfied with what we already have. This is why being grateful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for what He has already blessed us with is sometimes very challenging for us. All of us need a bit of fine tuning, so below are some tools I am sharing with you so you can show your gratitude to Him and let the blessings unfold.
  1. Make a list of 20 things that you appreciate: Write “Alhamdulillah” in front of every blessing. Make a list of the things you feel good about and why you are grateful for that thing, situation or person in your life. How did you feel doing this? Here is the good news: You have just increased your positivity and now you are able to attract more happiness, abundance and prosperity in your life.
  2. Appreciate the little things too: Start looking for everything you can be grateful for in life and start talking about it all the time, no matter how insignificant it is. If you find a Dollar from your old shirt’s pocket, celebrate. Go around and tell everyone how grateful you are for that. That is how you are tuning your mind to show gratitude for tiniest blessing in your life.
  3. Share the gratitude: At least once a day, share a gratitude status on Facebook or whatever social media you use and ask others what they are grateful for. In sha Allah, you will get blessings for your shukr and theirs too.
  4. Sense the gratitude: Standing in front of the mirror, focus on your eyes that can see, ears that can hear, a nose that can smell, rather than just measuring the size and diameter of that small pimple.
  5. Learn positivity: Try to seek the positive out of every negative. List at least three good lessons from every painful experience and be grateful that life threw that situation at you so that you could learn. And then, move on.
In a nutshell, developing the attitude of gratitude to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will do wonders to your life. Identify those wonders and be grateful for them so you can have more.
Do share with us a list of some blessings in your life that you are grateful for. We would like to hear from you in the comments section below.

About the Author:

Bela is the founder and Chief Inspirational officer at Muslim Women Empowerment. She is a life coach, speaker and a student of Qur’an. She helps women to overcome their obstacles and make a difference in their lives and the world. She can be reached at www.belakhan.com orwww.facebook.com/muslimwomenempowerment

   

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