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How To Be The Best – 4 More Hadiths

How to be the best spiritually

Note: This is part two of our series on How to be the Best. Click here to read Part One.

In the first article of this series, we focused on five Hadiths related to manners and relationships; and how to be the best in that area.

In this second article, we will continue looking at Hadiths about being the best. The focus this time, however, is on the best acts of worship. Islam teaches us to compete in good deeds and to strive to be the best of worshipers. These four hadiths teach us some of things we should focus on in order to achieve that goal.

Salah is the most fundamental act of worship, and the primary physical pillar of our faith. It is the one act of worship we are commanded to do five times a day, throughout our lives, in good health and illness. Due to the central importance of Salah in Islam, all of these Hadiths focus on different aspects related to Salah.

“The best of all deeds is the Prayer at its earliest time.” [Tirmidhi, Sahih]

The best of deeds

The first important aspect is the timing. Praying fives a time is the most important act of worship that every Muslim must do. It doesn’t make you the best of Muslims, it just makes you Muslim.

However, the reward of the Salah is magnified for those who pray it at its earliest time. There are many people who delay Salah until the time is almost over. If we want our Salah to be accepted as the best of deeds, we must make it a habit to pray each Salah at its earliest time.

“The best of places are the Masjids and the worst of places are the markets.” [Tabarani, Hasan]

Continuing on the topic of Salah, prayer in the Masjid is generally more rewarding for men than praying at home. There is also strong evidence that praying in congregation in the Masjid is Wajib (obligatory) for men. I too believe that when there is no excuse, it is an obligation for a man to pray his Salah at the Masjid.

However, this Hadith has a deeper meaning. This Hadith is really teaching us where we should spend most of our time. The best place that a Muslim can spend time in is the Masjid. Salah, dua, reciting Quran and attending Islamic classes are all acts of worship that are associated with Masjids. In general, time spend in the Masjid is spent building one’s Afterlife.

The Hadith compares this with market places (and in modern context, that includes shopping malls). In Islam, markets exist as a necessity of life. We go there to earn a living or purchase necessities. But loitering in such places leads to many problems like attachment to this world, materialism, failure to lower one’s gaze and wasting time.

This is why the Prophet (pbuh) called it the worst places. By this, he means that they are the worst of Halal places to be in. Markets are not considered worse than Haraam places like casinos, nightclubs, and places of Shirk. The key point of this Hadith is that we should only go to shops when necessary and should spend more time in Masjids, as this is best for us.

This is the opposite of the common practice today of being in and out of Masjids quickly when needed, while spending long hours loitering in Malls. May Allah guide us all to spend our time wisely and understand what is better for us.

“The best of you are those with the softest shoulders during prayer.” [Bayhaqi, Hasan]

A third Hadith on Salah is related to the effect of the Salah on the individual. While Salah must be prayed on time and in the Masjid, its impact on the soul is most important in spiritual development. This Hadith teaches us that the best Muslims are those who are moved by their Salah. The metaphor of softest shoulders refers to a Salah that fills us with humility, Taqwa and Khushoo.

In Surah Al-Muminoon, Khushoo in Salah is also listed as the first quality of the successful believers. This point is emphasized in many verses and hadiths. If we wish to be the best, we must continue to improve the quality of our Salah until it becomes a source of inner peace and guidance for us. This can be done by clearing our intentions, increasing our focus and learning to understand what we recite.

“The best of people in recitation are those who when they recite, you see that they fear Allah.” [Bayhaqi, Sahih]

Just like Salah, our recitation of Quran must have an impact on our souls. The best of Muslims are those who are moved by the Quran and whose hearts fill with the fear of Allah when reciting Quran. This applies both in and out of Salah. Regarding the true believers, Allah says, “When His verses are recited to them, it increases their faith,” (Surah Al-Anfaal 8:2)

So to be the best, the quality of our Salah and Recitation matter. We cannot rush through Salah or recite Quran ritually. We must do it sincerely for Allah’s sake and in a manner that brings us closer to Allah.

In order for our recitation to have this impact, we must choose a time when we are free from distraction, clear our intentions, understand what we are reciting and reflect on it. These steps will help develop our connection with the Quran.

More Hadiths on being the best coming soon…

 

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FREE eBook Chapter: Dealing With Fear

Dealing With Fear
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Dealing with Fear

Note: This is Chapter ten of my eBook Best Of Creation: An Islamic Guide to Self-Confidence.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “None of you should belittle himself.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, how does one belittle himself?” The Prophet said, “He finds a matter regarding Allah about which he should speak up but he does not. Allah the Exalted will say to him on the Day of Resurrection: What prevented you from speaking up about such-and-such? He will say: It was out of fear of the people. Allah will say: Rather, it is I who deserved to be feared.”[1]

 

The single most common obstacle in the way of people’s dreams is fear. There are many types of fear and the negative types hold us back from being the best we can be and accomplishing our goals.

There do exist, however, positive forms of fear. For example, the fear that stops us from swimming with sharks or playing with lions. This is a logical fear and good for us. This kind of fear protects us from doing something dangerous that would harm us.

More importantly, there is the fear of Allah. Out of love for our Creator, we fear displeasing Him and this fear stops us from committing major sins and stops us from persisting at minor sins. This is a positive form of fear that we must grow and embrace, as it is part of Divine Love.

Then we have the negative types of fear. The fear that cripples us and stops us from being our best. The negative types of fear can be summed up as five:

  1. Fear of failure
  2. Fear of rejection
  3. Fear of looking stupid
  4. Fear of the unknown
  5. Fear of change

These are the most common fears that stop us from accomplishing our goals, and I’m sure you can relate to some of them, if not all of them. In this section, we will tackle each of these failures with tips on how to overcome them.

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”  Jack Canfield

Fear of failure

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”
Robert F. Kennedy

“Better to try and fail than to fail to try”

You have a great business idea. It seems like a sure way to make a strong Halal profit, but there is one thing holding you back from pursuing it, you are afraid of failing and losing your capital.

You want to go back to school and get that degree, but you are afraid that your mind isn’t as strong as it used to be and that you might fail. You fear that such a failure will lead to embarrassment and a waste in student fees.

The fear of failure comes in many forms. Even in our spirituality, many people don’t try to be righteous because of their fear of falling back into sin. This aspect was covered in the previous chapter.

The key to overcoming this fear is to embrace failure as just another learning experience, just like mistakes. Failures are another form of mistakes and can be very positive experiences, if we embrace them, learn from them and let go of our fear of them.

Think about the consequences of not trying. If you have a good idea and allow fear of failure to cripple it, you will experience regret and low self-confidence. The regret of not trying can last for life, and is far worse than the experience of failing after trying.

If you try and still fail, you will feel a sense of fulfilment. You will think, “at least I tried and learned from the experience”. Failures are not the end of the world. There exist many people who bounced back from failure to great success.

In fact, a study of the lives of successful people indicates that failure is just a stepping stone to success. Nobody became successful without much trial and error. If you want something, you have to be willing to go through tests first before getting it.

Look at the example of aiming for Paradise. Nobody gets to Paradise due to a perfect life. We all fail many times on the path to Paradise, yet if we persist, we will eventually reach it.

It’s the same with our worldly goals. The Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) mission to spread Islam in Makkah took 20 years of trial and error to finally meet success. He faced many setbacks, there were times when he felt like he was failing and that success seemed impossible. After 13 years of preaching, he was forced into exile, and had to migrate to Madinah. Yet, with Allah’s Help, miracles occurred and after another eight years of persistence, he entered Makkah as its new conqueror.

If he allowed fear of failure to hold him back, he would never have achieved that goal. Rather, each setback he faced along the way was a learning experience that prepared him for future scenarios and eventually for victory.

Failures, just like mistakes, can be positive experiences, if we embrace them as stepping stones to success and learning experience. Don’t let your fear of failure stop you from trying.

Think of it as a Win/Win situation. Either I succeed, or I learn a life lesson that will help me succeed later. Either way, I can’t lose by trying.

Fear of rejection

You want to propose to the woman of your dreams, but you are afraid that she, or her Wali, will reject your proposal and you won’t be able to handle the rejection. So you never bring up the topic and many years later you still think back and wonder whether she would have said yes.

Your boss is looking for a new idea to improve sales, and you have a great idea that could revolutionize the company. What if he laughs at your idea? What if he thinks it is stupid? You become so paralyzed with fear of rejection that you never share your ideas and as a result, you never rise up the hierarchy at work.

You want to wear the Hijab, but your parents are angry with you and say that no man will propose to you if you wear it. You are afraid of being rejected by your parents or suitors. As a result, you disobey your Creator to please the creation, and find yourself living with the guilt in your heart killing your confidence.

Fear of rejection cripples us. We all want to be loved, appreciated and popular. We find it hard to accept the fact that someone doesn’t like our ideas or our personality. This causes us to pretend to be someone we are not in order to avoid rejection, and that always leads to low self-confidence and unhappiness.

Many people choose to live a lie, in order to avoid rejection. We wear metaphorical masks and pretend to be something we are not, just so that people will love us. Yet doing so destroys us inside.

The first step to overcoming this is to realize that a rejection of your proposals or ideas is not a reflection on your worth as a human being. Do not take everything personally. There are many reasons for rejection.

For example, a woman may turn down your proposal because you are not the right person for her, or she is not the right person for you, but that doesn’t mean the right person isn’t out there. She probably is, and you have to go through a few proposals and rejections before she comes into your life.

Your boss may not like your idea, but he is impressed by your zeal, enthusiasm and courage. In rejecting your idea, he may be watching you more closely to see what other good qualities you have and if you have any other ideas that might work.

A man may reject you because you wear Hijab. So what? It just proves he isn’t the right man for you. Because a man who loves Allah will appreciate that you wear Hijab.

Rejection is a part of life. It is just a stepping stone to success. Many successful people were rejected time and again before their ideas were given a chance and they succeeded.

J.K. Rowling is known today as the author of the best-selling fictional novel series Harry Potter. The first book in the series, though, was rejected by twelve different publishing houses, before somebody gave it a chance. This means she had to deal with rejection a dozen times before tasting even the slightest success.

The story of KFC is even more amazing. When Colonel Harland Sanders retired at the age of 65, he decided to sell his chicken recipe to restaurant owners, who would in turn give him a residual for every piece of chicken they sold–5 cents per chicken. His idea was rejected, by over a thousand restaurant owners!

Eventually, someone gave him a chance and the world renowned KFC franchise was born. He had to grow accustomed to rejection, and deal with it on a level that most people wouldn’t be able to handle.

It is highly unlikely that you will face rejection a thousand times for one idea. It is likely though that rejection is something you will face often when you are out there trying to be your best.

When we learn to accept rejection as another part of life, and nothing personal, it becomes easier to digest. It may still hurt, but the pain is less, and lasts less than the pain of not knowing whether you would have been rejected or not.

Take a chance and ask. At least then you can put your mind to rest and know for sure. This will allow you to move on and not obsess over something that wasn’t meant to be.

Something amazing happens when we build up the courage to face a situation of possible rejection. The experience increases our courage and the next time you are less afraid to try again. Over time, our courage is built up to a level in which we brush rejection aside and accept it as just another stepping stone to success.

In the story of the people of the cave, seven young men were the only believers in their community. Exposing their true beliefs would lead to rejection and possible abuse from their community, but they decided to take a stand and do it anyway. Allah describes the situations as follows, “And I strengthened their hearts when they took a stand and said Our Lord is the Lord of the Heavens and Earth,”[2]

Notice that Allah said He strengthened their hearts when they took a stand. This means that they too were afraid but when they pushed past the fear and did what they had to do, Allah gave them the courage to face whatever challenges came their way. Likewise, when we push through our fears and do the right thing, Allah gives us the courage to continue and rise above the challenges and rejection we face.

Reality is that every prophet and hero in history faced rejection from people. Study history and you will rarely find someone who did not face rejection, and this is what makes them our heroes. They did what others are afraid to do, they faced what others are afraid to face, and they rose up through the rejection and eventually found success. You too can be part of this list by following in their footsteps.

Read the stories of the prophets in the Qur’an. Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) had to deal with rejection for 950 years. Prophets Hud, Saleh, Lut and Shuaib (peace be upon them) were all rejected by their communities. Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) had to flee from Egypt. Prophet Yunus (peace be upon him) left town because his people had rejected his message. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) migrated to Madinah after ten years of propagation to and rejection by the leaders of Makkah.

Rejection was a daily part of life for the prophets of Allah, and they understood this. Their focus was on Allah and the Afterlife, and they knew that it was Allah’s pleasure that mattered the most.

What will the people Say!

The most common form that this fear appears in is what I call the “What will the people say’ syndrome. Many of us live our lives based on what will the people say. Every decision revolves around pleasing people and avoiding any rejection or criticism.

The result is a false life, low self-esteem and very often the disobedience of Allah in order to please the people.

So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price.[3]

If we worry about what people will say, we will never be able to accomplish anything. Understand that for anything you want to do, there will be critics. Not every critic is important. Yes, if the criticism is coming from a position of truth then you should listen to it and follow it.

However, most criticism comes from the low self-esteem of others. They are living a pessimistic false life and feel threatened whenever they see someone genuine who is not afraid to be himself. So they embark on a mission to bring that person down to their level using the most powerful weapon at their disposal, their tongues.

People criticize you because you remind them of who they were, who they could have been and the side of them they suppressed in order to please other people.

Fear
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True success comes from letting go of this concept and focusing on the pleasure of Allah. One of the qualities with which Allah describes those whom He loves and they love Him is “And they do not fear the criticism of the critics,”[4]

The key to overcoming this fear is to focus on the pleasure of Allah. If what you want to do is Halal, then don’t worry about what people say and do it. At the end of the day, we will all be accountable only to Allah when we die.

Why focus on pleasing people who don’t have influence on your Afterlife, or even your happiness in this world? What makes their opinion of you important? Why do we give people such authority over our lives? These are questions we should ask ourselves whenever we find ourselves fearing what people will say.

“What the world thinks about you does not matter, but what certain specific people think about you matters a lot,”[5]

Fear of looking stupid

You want to learn Arabic or Tajweed but feel foolish to show up for class without basic knowledge in the field. You are afraid of looking stupid if you are unable to grasp the basics of the subject, and as a result you decide not to attend the local classes.

You have a brilliant business idea but have no experience in the field. Fear of looking like a fool holds you back from even trying the idea.

Many of us fail to even get started due to fear of looking stupid. We are so conscious of making a fool of ourselves by stepping outside our comfort zones or learning something new that it paralyzes us. By now, you would have realized that all negative forms of fear paralyze you and hold you back from chasing your goals. The fear of looking stupid is no different.

Most of us tend to dramatize our lives. The crazy scenarios we imagine rarely happen and most people are not even paying attention to whether we look foolish or not, because they too are worried about looking foolish.

Look at the example of attending an Arabic class. Just like you, the rest of your classmates are new to the language and equally likely to make a silly mistake. Everybody is so worried about their own understanding of the subject that nobody is really paying attention to the mistakes of others, and even if they do, they rarely remember it.

The things we want to do are rarely ever as big a deal as we make them out to be. Our drama is usually far bigger than reality. Even your teachers, if they are good teachers, understand that you are new to the subject and likely to make mistakes so they are kind and understanding about it. So what is there really to fear?

If you have a goal, don’t think about how stupid you might look during the early stages of chasing that goal. Focus on the goal, and understand that making mistakes is inevitable. Mistakes are not the end of the world. Any goal worth achieving is worth making mistakes for along the way.

One of the best ways to overcome this fear is to laugh at your own mistakes. It lightens the mood, makes others comfortable and gives you the courage to push on because if anyone is laughing, they are laughing with you, instead of at you.

Fear of the Unknown

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” H.P. Lovecraft

Humans are naturally afraid of the unknown and our life experiences tend to build upon such fears. The world can be very risky and often we don’t know what to expect when venturing into a new area. Will it go well or will it go wrong? What will I do if something happens that I never imagined or prepared for?

You want to move to another country but so much about that country is unknowable until you are actually living there. Many people praise the country as a good place to live, yet every place has its flaws.  You are afraid of moving, and afraid of any new challenges you may face in the new environment.

You don’t like your job and know of many better opportunities that exist. However, you know your job and have been doing it for a while now. Starting a new job would mean being in an unknown environment, meeting new people and doing new things. The fear of the unknown keeps you locked into a job you don’t like, but know well.

There are several ways to overcome our fear of the unknown. A bit of research can help subdue the fear and replace it with excitement and anticipation. If you are going into a new field, research the pros, cons, benefits and challenges of going into that field, so there are less unknown variables. Likewise, if you are moving to a new country, research the pros, cons, benefits and challenges of living in that country.

Doing our research reduces fear as there are less unknown factors, and more factors that we can prepare ourselves for. Researching the benefits of taking that decision also gives us more incentive to do it, in spite of our fears.

Another important step is to make Dua, and specifically to pray the Istikharah Salah whenever you need to make an important decision. Some people think that Istikharah is only linked to marital decisions. Istikharah is actually a dua we are supposed to make whenever we have made an important life decision, which includes starting a new career or moving to a new area.

Once you have done your research, made dua, and prayed Istikharah, you can now relax and place your trust in Allah. He will not allow anything to happen to you except that which is good for you. Do not worry, and go out and face your fears with Allah by your side.

When you do this, you will find that your fears were unnecessary. Very often the unknown is beautiful, exciting, life changing and beneficial. You wonder what you were afraid of, and you are grateful to Allah for giving you the courage to face your fears and move forward in spite of such fears.

If you are being held back from any important decision due to fear, it is time to let go of it. Trust in Allah, and move forward and you will experience a beautiful adventure that will help you grow to your full potential.

And whoever fears Allah, He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah, then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. (Surah At-Talaq 65:2-3)

Fear of Change

A new job, a new home, a new country, a new career, a new spouse, a new child, another change with new challenges. Many people are afraid of change. They want things to stay the same and are afraid of anything that will upset the status quo of their lives.

This fear is irrational, because change is the only constant in this life. Everything changes all the time, and our fear of change will not stop changes from happening.

Look around you and see how much has changed over the years. People have passed away and other people were born. Countries rose to power or fell from power. Technology went through evolutions and revolutions. Change is constant and all around us.

By fearing change, we do not stop it from happening, we instead make ourselves the victims of change. We blame the changes around us for the problems in our lives. Instead of realizing that we are to blame, and the changes are just a part of life.

Embracing change makes you proactive. It helps you to control some of the changes in your life, and to deal adequately with the changes that are beyond your control.

Some things happen in our lives that we can’t control, and they change our lives in major ways. Fear and blame will not help us in such situations. We should approach such situations understanding that whatever Allah allows to happen to us is best for us. Therefore, this change must be good for us in some way.

Perhaps you were forced to get a new job or relocate to a new area, and this meant a lot of changes in your life. There are two ways to can approach this change. You can cry about it, talk about how much you hate change, and become a victim to your circumstance. In doing so, you rob yourself the opportunity of any benefit and destroy your own confidence.

Alternatively, you can embrace the change as Allah’s decree for you, and a new opportunity with new experiences and benefits. In doing so, you approach it with a positive confident mind-set and benefit from the change.

Whether we fear change or not, it will inevitably occur. We need to learn to accept it as a part of life, enjoy it and learn from it. In doing so, we lose our fear, build our confidence and benefit from the experience.

Fear of Allah

“Oh you who believe! Fear Allah as He deserves to be feared and do not die except as believers.”[6]

“Fear Allah wherever you are. Follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will blot it out. And deal with people in a good manner.”[7]

In moderation, fear of Allah is a positive trait and one necessary for surviving the temptations of this world. As you climb the ladder of worldly success, many new temptations will open up that can take you away from success in the Afterlife. In such situations, it is the fear of Allah that helps us restrain ourselves from giving in to such temptations.

Imagine if you overcame all your other fears and became someone rich, powerful and successful. Suddenly the treasures of this world lie before you and the only thing standing between you and abusing them is your relationship with Allah. This relationship is the most important thing in the world and crucial for staying on track during times of temptation.

In Surah Al-Kahf, there is a parable about a man who attained such success. He was a farmer and Allah describes him as a man who had it all; cultivated fields, grape-vines, date palm trees with a river flowing in between, and every year all of his crops would make a profit.

This man failed the test of success though. His success made him arrogant, he began to boast about his wealth, and he forgot to thank Allah for blessing him with it. His neighbour reminded him to thank Allah before his wealth is taken away, but he ignored the warning. Eventually, the man lost all of his wealth and regretted it. This is what happens when someone has worldly success, without the fear of Allah.

Give them the parable of two men; to one of whom I gave two gardens of grapes, each surrounded by date palms and separated by cultivated fields. Each of the two gardens bore fruit without any loss and I caused a river to flow between them.

He had a lot of property so he mentioned to his companion, while conversing with him, “I have much more wealth than you and more people.” And he entered his garden, while being unjust to himself, saying, “I don’t think that this will ever perish, and I don’t think the Hour will ever come. And, if indeed I am brought back to my Lord, I will surely find better than this when I return.”

  His companion said to him, during his discussion, “Do you disbelieve in Him who created you out of dust, then out of an oily drop, then fashioned you into a man? But to me, He is Allah, my Lord, and I will not associate anyone as partner with my Lord. It is better for you to say, when you entered your garden: Mashaa Allah (This is as Allah has willed) There is no power except by Allah’s permission,’ (listen to my advice) even though you see me having less wealth and children than you.

Perhaps my Lord will give me something better than your garden. And He may cause destruction to descend on your garden from the sky, and turn it into smooth featureless land, or the water may sink so deep into the earth that you would never be able to reach it.”

So the fruit of his labour became surrounded by ruin. And he began rubbing his hands in regret over the effort he had spent on it, while it was all destroyed on its trellises. He could only say: “If only I had not associated any partners with my Lord!” And he had no group of men to help him against Allah, nor could he save himself. In such circumstances the only support comes from Allah, the true God. His reward is best and the best ending.[8]

 

The fear of Allah should be an extension of our love for Allah. We love Allah so much that we fear displeasing Him. It must also be balanced with hope in Allah’s Mercy, so that it does not become a negative quality and lead to despair.

The way this works is that whenever we feel tempted, we remind ourselves to fear Allah and avoid giving in to temptation. But should we give in to temptation during a moment of weakness, at such times we need to focus on Allah’s mercy, repent and try again to get back on track.

This dual system is necessary as fear without hope leads to despair and hope without fear leads to complacency. Both of which will get in the way of success in both worlds.

A believer must cultivate his relationship with Allah at all times, whether good or bad, and keep this connection strong. The method for doing so was listed in an earlier chapter.

A Final Word on Fear

Being afraid is natural. Do not feel alone if you are afraid to do something. Whether the fear is fear of failure, rejection, change, the unknown or looking stupid, it is quite common to find many people experiencing such fear.

Every human experiences fear. The only difference between those who accomplish their goals and those who do not, is that the former push through their fears while the latter are inhibited by theirs.

You too can be of those who push through their fears. You just need to believe in Allah, trust His Wisdom, plan to the best of your ability, and then jump into it. In the end, you will get what you wanted or learn from the experience.

That was Chapter Ten, out of thirteen chapters, from my 200 page eBook ‘Best Of Creation’.
Click the link below to purchase the full eBook!
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[1] Ibn Majah 4008

[2] Surah Al-Kahf 18:14

[3] Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:44

[4] Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:54

[5] Mirza Yawar Baig, 20.10.2010-55, p. 37

[6] Surah Aal-Imran 3:102

[7] Sunan At-Tirmidhi

[8] Surah Al-Kahf 18:32-44

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Stop Romanticizing Dawah

Romanticizing DawahRomanticizing Dawah

On social media today, Dawah is often portrayed as an exciting path full of great luxuries and perks. Glamorizing and romanticizing Dawah has distorted the perception of this noble act of worship in the minds of many. The result is that many people are getting into Dawah for wrong reasons and causing a lot of harm to the Dawah in the process.

The process, purpose and results of Dawah have been poorly portrayed in recent times. This has attracted too many showmen, hypocrites, fame-seekers, and copycats who lack the correct purpose, vision, goal and drive to truly make a difference in this ummah. There are so many wrong perceptions of Dawah that need clarification. These are some of the major ones.

Dawah is NOT a path to fame

Dawah does NOT lead to fame. If you see a famous Da’ee, know that is the exception, NOT the norm. For every Da’ee with one million Facebook followers, there are a dozen that nobody knows about. There are so many things wrong with thinking Dawah leads to fame, including the following:

That individual may have gone through decades of struggles and being hated by society before gaining millions of followers. All you see are the millions of followers today, and not the years of struggle without any followers.

You may think there is a shortcut to get the respect they have, but there isn’t! They sincerely worked hard for decades, wanting nothing but Allah’s pleasure and the followers are simply part of the Barakah from Allah. It was never the goal.

If Dawah led to fame, every prophet would be the most famous person of their time. Reality is that some Prophets had many followers and others only had a handful. What they had in common was not fame, but trials.

Dawah is NOT fun and easy

Where in the Quran will you find a story about a da’ee who had it easy and whose life was a fun adventure? Every story of every prophet is one of struggle, hardship, courage and often isolation. The same can be said of the stories of the sahaba and famous scholars throughout history.

So where did this idea come about that the Dawah is fun and exciting? Social Media! The selfies of duaat on business class flights staying in five star hotels and enjoying everything in this dunya has created a false image of what the life of a da’ee is. The truth is that the da’ee in that photo has his own struggles, but because only the good times are shared on Facebook, we have a distorted image.

The real Dawah is not a fun ride. It is a struggle to promote the truth in a world that hates to hear it. You will make more enemies than friends, and will find yourself in constant trouble for speaking the truth. The Dawah does not need people looking for fun and excitement, it needs people who are dedicated to the cause and willing to sacrifice everything for Allah.

Dawah is a form of worship

Dawah is an act of worship. It is from the great acts of worship and obligations done by the prophets and great Muslims throughout history. They never did it to rack up Shahadah High Scores and swap statistics. Nor did they do it for the money, the fame, or the attention. They had only one goal: to spread the message of Allah. The question we need to ask ourselves is why are we doing Dawah?

Your Intention is crucial

This leads to a key point. If you are choosing to join the Dawah world, you need to be very clear about your intentions. Dawah is only an act of worship when it is done to Allah for Allah with methods allowed by Allah, without any distortion to the message. It is a huge responsibility, and we are responsible for everything we say and do on this path.

There is no room in the Dawah world for attention seekers, fame seekers or gold-diggers. If you are in it for the wrong reasons, you are only harming the Deen and it will count against you on the Last Day.

Dawah is a form of Jihad

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The most virtuous form of Jihad is to speak the truth to a tyrant ruler.” (Abu Dawud)

Dawah means speaking the truth, even if it upsets people. In this day and age, almost every aspect of Islam is controversial to secular minded folk. This makes it an even bigger struggle to speak the truth, and as a result some compromise their message, while others give up doing Dawah altogether.

If you are serious about Dawah, you have to get used to being politically incorrect. You have to be brave and speak the truth, even if it gets you in trouble. You have to a pillar of strength for the Deen, even when the world is crumbling around you. If not, then you are not doing Dawah to Allah, but just to yourself.

The results of Dawah in this world are not guaranteed

For some strange reason, every year I end up meeting a naive young da’ee who thinks he/she is going to be the one to turn society around completely, and that it is only a matter of time before people are following him/her. Many of these people fall completely off the Dawah within a few months when they realize their Dawah is drawing criticism, instead of change.

Newsflash folks: That is exactly how Dawah works! Dawah means telling people what they don’t want to hear. What do you think will happen when you do that? Criticism, haters, trolls, and obstacles are norms in the path of Dawah.

Reality is that there is absolutely no guarantee that you will see any results to your Dawah in this world. It isn’t sales or marketing, it is Divine Guidance. You may try new methods and new audiences but nothing is guaranteed. Throughout history, there have been Du’aat who did not gain any real following during their lifetimes, yet they are rewarded by Allah for their effort.

This is the key point to understand. If you are doing Dawah for Allah, then you are not hear to win a popularity contest. You are hear to spread the pure message of Islam to as many people as possible. Whether people accept that message or not is not in your hands. We are not here to rack up Shahadah High Scores or gain a specific number of social media followers. We are here to serve Allah, and if Allah chooses for people to come to Him through us, then that is His Mercy and Blessing. Either way, we must continue doing our Dawah for Allah.

End of Rant

Let us stop portraying Dawah as this fictional perfect life. It isn’t the reality for any Da’ee. Dawah is a duty and responsibility, and with it comes many trials. If you do it, do it for Allah. Do not expect any worldly rewards, and stay focused on the real goal: spreading the message of Allah without distortion.

May Allah keep us all steadfast on the truth and protect our hearts from deviation.

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On Turning Thirty – Thirty Lessons Learned

Turning ThirtyTurning Thirty

I turned thirty today. I know I may seem much older to many people, but that is because I started living my life much younger than most people do. Alhamdulillah, my twenties have been very productive, and I have set goals to make my thirties ten times more productive with Allah’s Help.

As part of reflecting on the passage of time, I decided to list thirty important lessons I learned during my thirty years on planet earth. Enjoy!

Four Reflections on life

  1. Starting young gives you a head-start in life. I started studying Islam at age thirteen, started doing Dawah at age sixteen, got married when I was twenty, became a father when I was twenty-one, and published my first book when I was twenty five. The younger you start, the more you can get done in your life.
  2. The pain of being an orphan never goes away. Twenty-one years ago, my father was murdered. He was twenty nine year old. It still hurts even today, and I still miss him every day. Treasure your parents if they are still alive. Make due for them if they have passed on.
  3. Bad times are just as much a part of life as the good times. Don’t be obsessed with one or the other. During good times, thank Allah and during bad times, seek His Assistance through patience and Salah. Neither will last forever. Maturity is getting used to that and accepting it as a part of life.
  4. Life really is short, so make use of whatever time Allah has blessed you with. My father passed away when he was twenty-nine. During the past two decades, I have seen many other loved ones leave this world. Don’t waste your youth in mindless entertainment. Be productive and make a difference in this world.

Six Reflections on Relationships

  1. Your family should be a priority. Your spouse, children, parents, and siblings are gifts from Allah. Value them and treat them all with honor and love.
  2. But also make time for yourself. Don’t lose yourself in work and taking care of the family. Take care of yourself too. Make time for personal hobbies and personal development, because you need it more than you realize.
  3. However, your relationship with Allah is most crucial. Be regular with your Salah and live your life in obedience to Allah.
  4. Temptations never end. Marriage does not mean the end of tests. Become a parent does not mean the end of tests. Getting older does not mean the end of tests. This world is a testing ground until we leave it, so never become complacent about sources of temptation.
  5. Nobody is perfect and that is okay. What matters is that you are sincerely trying your best and seeking forgiveness for your lapses along the way. Treat your mistakes as learning experiences and grow through them.
  6. So forgive others. Life is too short to hold grudges, and nobody is perfect. Overlook genuine mistakes and help people grow.

Ten Reflections on Personal Growth

  1. Invest in yourself. Make time to grow intellectually every day. Whether it is through books, courses or personal training. You need to grow in order to be able to do well in this ever changing world.
  2. Books are your friends. Whether they are eBooks, audiobooks and physical books. Invest in them and always have a never-ending book list to read through.
  3. Set goals and work towards them. Without goals, life will just pass you by without you really living up to your potential.
  4. Make those goals really really high. You only have one life in this world, so why aim low? Squeeze the most out of life with ridiculously high goals.
  5. Self-Confidence is necessary to accomplish your goals. Build it up and don’t allow others to break it down.
  6. Time Management is just as necessary. You must know how you are spending your time and find ways to spend it productively.
  7. Keep it Halal. Whatever goals you set or paths you take to accomplish those goals, make sure they are Halal. Because no goal is worth displeasing Allah for.
  8. Be picky about your close friends. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to be the best you can be. Avoid negative company, toxic company and especially company that encourages sin.
  9. Remember that each year that passes is a year that you can’t get back, so don’t waste any year of your life.
  10. You should be able to look back each year and say, “Wow, I can’t believe I was like that!” because of how much you have grown in a person within that year.

Ten Reflections on Religion

  1. Islam is a gift from our Creator. Study it, love it, live it, grow deeper into it, and never abandon it or take it for granted.
  2. Over the past fifteen years, I have, at different times, been a part of many sects, and I have seen faults in all of them. Now I just focus on being Muslim and obeying Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) without getting involved in sectarianism.
  3. Sectarianism is time consuming and a never ending debate. Seriously, how much of your life will you waste in the Facebook comments sections debating that one guy?
  4. Our purpose in life is to worship Allah, not refute every individual we disagree with. Pick your fights carefully. Not every disagreement has to turn into a fifty page PDF refutation.
  5. After a decade of studying, you realize there will always be things you don’t know and opinions you are unsure about. You realize that Fiqh issues are not worth fighting people over, except when its clear deviation. There will always be differences of opinion in Fiqh, so learn to live them.
  6. Good character and good manners are essential parts of our religion. Over the past decade, I met too many ‘practicing Muslims’ who have forgotten that.
  7. We need thick skins to practice and preach Islam. Islam is never going to be politically correct, as long as those politics are governed by Nafs (desires) and secularism. We must get used to being politically incorrect. Allah’s pleasure is worth far more than any person’s opinion of you.
  8. The path of Dawah is lonely and full of tests. You will make more enemies than friends, and will be misunderstand even when you speak clearly. It seems many people want to misunderstand you, and there isn’t anything you can do about it.
  9. Everything on this earth is a test. Often, the test of success, wealth, fame and popularity are harder than their opposites. Remain steadfast on the truth in every situation.
  10. In the end, we will all leave this world. What matters is not whether people liked us or not. It is Allah’s acceptance of our deeds that truly matters. So live your life focused on that.

I know. These points are a lot, and each require an article-long explanation. However, I’ll leave them as they are for you to ponder over. I end by asking Allah to grant us all productive lives that are pleasing to Him.