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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Life and Balance

My daily chores overwhelm me,
So much to do in so little time,
I cannot stop and take the time to see,
And not even a minute do I have to think about the One Above, most sublime!

Work, work and work…that’s all I can perceive,
From the morning till the eve,
My thoughts are filled with mundane tasks,
My life defined by a thousand masks.

A perfect depiction of ‘life in the fast lane’,
Sometimes I wonder if I’m going insane,
Stress is like my air,
And somewhere between, I can’t help but feel despair!

My family life is limited,
And it’s almost as if I’ve been prohibited,
From having peace and tranquility,
Oh how I long for more stability.

I don’t know when last I’ve read a book,
Or even taken out time to cook,
I don’t have time for exercise,
Perhaps it’s all part of the compromise,
But, the worst of all I can’t even say,
I can’t remember when last I put down my head to pray!

This cannot be the way to live,
This one-sided, way seems poor,
There has to be a better way,
More balance would be better I’m sure.

How do I find what I really need?
The things that I’ve always thought could wait.
What do I do to find the peace?
Before I wake up and find it’s too late.

Human beings are not one-dimensional. Alhamdulilla, it is a mercy of Allah (SWT) on us that we can function on many different levels. Thus, maintaining a balanced life is essential for our well-being. When we focus on only one aspect of our lives, (whether it’s work, or family, or friends, or even spirituality), then we will find that we can’t achieve true contentment, because our lives are unbalanced.

Islam emphasizes this concept of balance or moderation and it places importance on both the material, everyday tasks as well as the spiritual tasks. It is for this reason that forms of worship in Islam is not limited to praying or fasting only, but a simple thing like smiling at another human being for instance has been regarded as a form of charity, something which pleases Allah Almighty, a different form of worship. For Muslims, then, achieving a balanced life should be easy.

When a person’s life is unbalanced, then it makes the person more susceptible to physical as well as mental illnesses.

Insha’Allah in my next post I will look at ‘living a balanced life’ in a little more detail.

Until then, take some time out to reflect on your own life. How balanced is your life? Do you make time for different things in your life? Or, do you find yourself making much more time for some things than for others? If you’ve been feeling stressed out, angry, depressed, burnt out, etc… then perhaps the real problem is that your life is unbalanced…

What do you think about all this? Share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you?

Until my next post, take care and try to live a more balanced life…May Allah make it easy for us all!

I leave you in peace!

Friday, January 22, 2010

A person with good character will always be remembered

Since my last blog post was about good character, I decided to add a related story here to make it more interesting and realistic.

When I started thinking about good character, a particular person came to mind. Someone I attended high school with about 13 years ago. Even though it was so long ago, I always remember this particular high school friend of mine as someone with an exceptional moral character. He was someone who was raised in a religious Christian home, and I found it really striking that he would always try to do what was right, even though everyone else around (including some Muslims) couldn’t be bothered about right or wrong. I remember one particular day as a group of us were walking home from school, this boy began speaking to us about his then girlfriend. What he said to me will always remain in my mind because of the important lesson it held. You see, his girlfriend at the time came from a strict family who did not want her having boyfriends, and if she was to meet my friend during school holidays she would have to lie to her parents to do so and he absolutely insisted that he would not have her do that! He said to us that no matter how much he missed her, he would never have her tell lies, and he would not let her disrespect her family! He respected her and her family so much that he was willing to forego his own feelings to do the right thing. The pleasure of seeing his girlfriend was not worth it if she had to tell lies in order to see him. It would have been very easy for him to tell his girlfriend to lie to her parents and to meet him secretly, but he chose the more difficult path, the right path!

Now, people might think that this is a small thing, but because of the respect and honour that this friend of mine had, I will always remember him as a person with great character and even after all these years whenever I think of him I have the utmost respect for him. What’s more, out of all the people I attended high school with, he is someone who has done really well for himself, and I’m thinking this has everything to do with his good character!

The point I’m trying to make is that when people insist on always being truthful and respectful, other people begin to respect and honour them, and the respect continues for years to come. It takes small actions to reveal a person’s true character! Your true character comes through at times when you think other people are not paying much attention to you!

I'm sure that you have your own stories of people with good character, feel free to share them with us, or you can just add your comments below.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Importance of Good Character

What is character? – In short character has been defined as –“what you do when nobody else is looking”, or when you think nobody else is paying attention to you. It’s about your actions, your behaviour, attitudes towards and treatment of others. People can have good character and they can have bad character. Good character involves kindness, trustworthiness and respect while bad character is the opposite of all these virtues.

As Muslims our character should always be good and pure. This was the case with the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and even non-Muslim writers have to admit to the perfect character of the Prophet (PBUH). For instance, Diwan Chand Sharma wrote about the Prophet (SAW) that:” Muhammad was the soul of kindness, and his influence was felt and never forgotten by those around him.” In addition, Mahatma Gandhi had the following to say about the prophet of Islam Muhammad (PBUH):“I become more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers and his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle.”

The importance of good character is stressed in Islam. “It was the first object of God to teach the Prophet (PBUH) good manners and conduct. For this reason the Prophet (PBUH) said: I have been sent to complete good conduct”. Furthermore, “God praised the character of the Prophet by saying “You are surely on sublime character”. The Prophet explained it to the people: God loves good character and hates bad character”.

Ayesha (May Allah Be Pleased with her) said: “The Prophet (PBUH) was a complete model of the moral of the Quraan”.

So why the emphasis on having good character? You see, sometimes we tend to forget that our character and attitude towards others determines the outcomes of our lives. Without realizing the vibes that we send out, we get the same vibes back and we then blame other people or events.

“A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world; everyone you meet is your mirror” (Ken Keyes, Jr.).

Now it’s true that some people will remain negative no matter how you react to them, but if most people you associate with seem to react to you in a similar negative manner then perhaps it would be a good idea to review the way in which you are reacting to others. You may be surprised at what you find out and what might shock you even more is how your entire life will change when you begin to make important positive changes to your character.

There are 3 important components of Good Character:
1. Moral Knowing- To know what is right and wrong, good and bad.
2. Moral Feeling- A conscience to feel when something isn’t the way it should be. This also includes self-respect, self-control and humility.
3. Moral Action- Actually taking action to change the things that you know and feel are wrong. This requires will power, practice and a whole lot of patience!

People with good character act truthfully, loyally, bravely, kindly and fairly without being much tempted by the opposite course” (Joe White, author of the book “Pure Excitement”.

Okay, so now it’s time to see what your character rates as, and remember, IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY WITH THE RESULTS YOU GET, IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO MAKE A POSITIVE CHANGE.


Read the statements below and then choose the number that is most appropriate for you.

At the end add up the value of all the chosen numbers and this will be your total score:

If your answer is "ALWAYS" in any of the statements choose the first number next to the statement, If your response is "SOMETIMES" choose the 2nd number next to the statement, and if your reponse is "NEVER" choose the 3rd number next to the statement. In each case the value of the number might be different, but the 1st number will remain "ALWAYS", and so on.

1 It’s ok to tell lies. 1 2 3
2 I make promises and don’t fulfill it. 1 2 3
3 If people give me extra change at the shop I give it back. 3 2 1
4 Telling the truth is best. 3 2 1
5 I cheat other people. 1 2 3
6 It’s ok to take things from people with lots of money. 1 2 3
7 I occasionally shoplift. 1 2 3
8 I exaggerate about things. 1 2 3
9 I make up stories about myself when others show off. 1 2 3
10 I lie to children to keep them quiet. 1 2 3
11 You must respect elders. 3 2 1
12 I honour family rules. 3 2 1
13 I talk back to elders. 1 2 3
14 It’s ok to laugh at others. 1 2 3
15 I interrupt others when they are talking. 1 2 3
16 All people should be treated with respect. 3 2 1
17 I use other people’s things without asking. 1 2 3
18 I know better than others. 1 2 3
19 It’s ok to gossip about others. 1 2 3
20 I am concerned about other people. 3 2 1
21 I am better than others. 1 2 3
22 I ask for help when I need it. 3 2 1
23 I worry about what others think. 1 2 3
24 I learn from my mistakes. 3 2 1
25 I must always be perfect. 1 2 3
26 People need to be criticized. 1 2 3
27 I do things to impress others. 1 2 3
28 People’s faults need to be brought out. 1 2 3
29 You can learn a lot from other people. 3 2 1
30 I do things the right way. 3 2 1

What your score means:

75-90- means that you have good character traits of honesty, respect and humility.
MashaAllah, keep it up!

60-72- means that you are doing well but there is room for improvement, you can
better your character.

30-57- You need to improve your character. It is not impossible or too late, it just


Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advised us that we should; “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” There are many ways in which we can hurt other people. The most obvious form of hurting someone is by physically injuring them. However, there are other ways of hurting people that we might take for granted because we cannot see the effects of our hurtful actions. This can perhaps be referred to as ‘emotional hurting’. We do this when we hurt other people’s feelings. Talking ill of others, backbiting, spreading rumours, teasing, mocking, making fun of someone, lying to someone, speaking disrespectfully, insulting people and even breaking promises are ways in which we hurt other peoples’ feelings. It is better for us not to say anything about other people at all because we never know when we will be hurting the next person. We might not intend to be hurtful but we can still end up hurting someone else. We have to remember that Allah sees all that we do and we will be answerable for it. If we do not pay for our actions in this world then we will have to pay for it in the hereafter.

People often say that; “what goes around comes around”. We see this all of the time, in everyday life. If someone does something to hurt someone else it eventually comes back to them, sometimes it comes back to them after many years and it always comes back in ways that hurt more so we have to be very careful.

“In a Hadith we read that on one occasion, Nabi (SAW) enquired from his Sahabah (RA) whether they knew who a real PAUPER was. When they replied in the negative, Rasulullah (SAW) explained that a pauper is that person who appears before Allah Ta’aala with a tremendous amount of good deeds including Zakaat, Hajj, Saum (fasting), Salaah, Dawaah and Tabligh. However, in spite of having all these virtues, he would have also trampled on the rights of others by having spoken ill of someone, criticised another wrongly, back-bitten or insultingly sworn somebody or robbed another, etc.

His good deeds will now be used to compensate for all the evils committed by him until all his rewards and sawaab would be eliminated. Therefore the sins of those whom he had wronged would be transferred upon his shoulders and thus, as a real PAUPER, he will be cast into Jahannam. (May Allah save us all from such a plight!).”

Saturday, January 16, 2010

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful. All Praise is due to Allah, our Creator and Sustainer. May the peace and blessings of Allah Almighty be on the Blessed Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), and on his family and companions.

“Verily We have created man in the best stature (mould). Then We have reduced him to the lowest of low. Save those who believe and do righteous deeds. Then they shall have a reward without end.” (Holy Quraan- Surah 95- Verse 4-6)


If there’s one thing that most of us would agree on then it’s the fact that life seems to be getting more and more complicated. Never before have people being so connected to other people and to what’s happening in the world. Yet even though people are constantly “chatting” to someone, whether it’s on MXit, Facebook, via e-mail or through some other sort of social network, there seems to be more and more people feeling lonely, depressed, angry, stressed out, disillusioned, anxious, hopeless... and the list goes on and on!

Perhaps these are the consequences of a modern day society; maybe people will argue that we cannot get away from these things; that we just can’t help getting stressed out or experiencing road rage; that some level of anxiety, depression and even disillusionment is necessary to assist us to deal with our hectic lives. Maybe there are those that will argue that true peace and contentment is elusive. Then there might be those people who will insist that change is absolutely impossible, because no matter how one tries, nothing seems to work and their lives will always stay the same.

When I first began to study psychology I was intrigued- the various theories put forth about human behaviour on all levels, from cognitive to spiritual fascinated me. As time passed by though, I began to realize a very important thing, and this is that Islam inherently and naturally encompasses all we need to know to help us deal with things in our lives! Many of the things I learnt in psychology could also be found in Islam, even if it was put forth in a different way. The answers are all there, and the more I began to look for them, the more obvious they were. From time management to dealing with depression, anger and anxiety, the complete Islamic system provides guidance on how to deal with life!

Now I’m not at all saying that psychology is useless (I’d be quite a hypocrite if I was saying this). Psychology is very useful, but without the application of Islamic principles and means of dealing with things, it is incomplete. In my opinion, an integration of relevant psychological principles into the Islamic framework seems like the way to go.

So, that’s why I decided to start this blog- In order to shed some light on how this integrated approach may help people to deal with life better and to achieve peace (which is really not that elusive after all). So what I hope to do Inshallah is to discuss different topics (for e.g. dealing with-stress, anger, depression, relationship issues, etc). But it is not my intention to just write articles and post it here. I would really like this blog to be interactive. At times I will add relevant exercises, quizzes, practical things to do to help you deal... and so on and so forth. BUT- the more input I get from people the better it will be. So I would really like it if people posted topics that they would like to discuss (perhaps this relates to personal issues or more general ones, it doesn’t matter). I will try to address the issues people have to deal with by means of a new post on the requested topic and at the same time discussion from all individuals are encouraged and necessary so that we can all learn from each other’s experiences.

May Allah (SWT) make it easy for this effort to assist us all in achieving peace and contentment in our lives and I hope that we can also have some fun as we learn that life doesn’t really have to be so complicated after all!

Abdullah Ibn Amar (May Allah be pleased with him) narrates that Nabi Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said something to this effect; “Indeed the successful person is he that has accepted Islam, who has been granted sufficient sustenance, and whom Allah has granted contentment with that which Allah Ta’ala has granted him.” (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, p.337)

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) relates that Nabi (Pbuh) said something to this effect; “Wealth in essence is not defined by excessive possessions, rather it is defined by inner contentment.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol.2, p.954).

For those of you (like me) who love taking quizzes to find out more about yourselves, I’ve added a link below where you can take different personality tests and get your results for free. There is one specifically related to this, called “Deal with It.” PLEASE BEWARE WHEN TAKING THESE TESTS BECAUSE PEOPLE OFTEN ACCEPT EVERY WORD THAT THESE TESTS SAY ABOUT THEM AND THIS CAN SOMETIMES BECOME VERY DISTRESSING. THESE TYPES OF TESTS ARE DEVELOPED TO PROVIDE SOME BASIC INSIGHT INTO AN INDIVIDUALS FUNCTIONING, BUT IT ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT DEFINE WHO YOU ARE COMPLETELY!

If you’ve taken a test, tell us what you thought of your results, or give any comment that you would like to, about this blog or anything else related. Let us know what topics you think should be discussed. The forum is open for discussion- Hope you all enjoy this! I'm looking forward to hearing your comments!

May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you all!