The Art of Getting through Long Islamic Lecture Series

Once upon a time, it was hard to get a hold of quality Islamic lectures.

But now, fast forward a few years – and you have a lecture overload.

The issue is no longer, “Where can I find them?” Rather, now it’s, “How can I get through them?”

How can I get through materials that I know will add value to my life but I have no pressing need to do so?

And I am not talking about the average twenty minute recorded conference talk about “five tips to get you through Ramadan,” I’m talking about those massive long series, hours and hours long, which are oozing with pearls of wisdoms. Think: the Seerah Series by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, Seerah Life of the Prophet (saw) by Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda, the video libraries consisting of many series over at Bayyinah TV and IlmFlix… THAT is what I am talking about.

As a Muslim Life Hacker, this has been one of those things I’ve been trying to ‘hack’ in my imaginary life hacks lab. Alhamdulilah, as I’m writing this post, I’m happy to say that I have just finished the longest lecture series to date! It was none other than the Seerah Series by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, consisting of 101 parts, ranging from 60 minutes to 90 minutes each, for a total of almost 120 hours! I was able to get through it without being accountable to anyone, or having to need to take a holiday for a month just to get through it.

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How did I do it? Well it’s an art of it’s own and I want to show you exactly how.

What I cover below can be applied to other things such as listening to more one-off lectures, audio books and podcasts – Islamic or non Islamic – but my focus is for those long lecture series that we badly want to go through but never get around to.

Let’s start!

 

1) Choose the Series:

Ask yourself:

What would you like to learn more about?

What will be of most benefit to you now?

What interests you?

These are some questions to ask when committing to a series.

A few more tips:

  • Seek personal transformation over collecting information and facts:It would be great if we could all sit down with a cup of coffee, take notes and create doodles while listening to a lecture, and If you can do this, then that’s great for you, but for most of us, it’s just an idealistic dream which stops us from doing anything, also known as “procrastination.” So do what you can, even if it’s just listening with intention to simply become a better person and remember that you can always go through the material again with more serious dedication and study.
  • Look for something you enjoy listening to: If there is a topic that interests you but the way it’s presented makes you go to sleep (maybe it is too technical for your liking) then don’t feel bad to choose another one and come back to it later.
  • Start with one:When you get more advanced, you can go through multiple series at a time, but for now, start with just one and prove to yourself that you can finish it.

 

2) Create a Fool Proof Set Up:

Now that you have identified what you want to listen to, you need to set it up on your portable listening device (I assume you’ll be listening on your mobile device, iPod, etc.) and remove any obstacles that may prevent you from finishing it. These obstacles differ depending on the format: podcast series, audio series, YouTube series, or videos on a website.

I am going to cover each one including how to set them up.

Podcasts

Podcasts are the easiest way to get through a series because, once it’s set up on your device, it takes care of everything, leaving very little to prevent you from finishing. In fact, the seerah series I completed earlier was in podcast format.

How to Set up for Listening:
As an avid consumer of podcasts and a podcaster myself, I’ve found that many are still missing out on the benefits of podcasts. If this sounds like you, then here are some quick video tutorials on how to set up podcasts on your AndroidApple and Window devices.

Also there are a variety of podcast players out there – free and paid. I use Pocketcasts and PlayerFM.

Possible Obstacles:

  • I can’t listen outside without an internet connection.
    • Solution:Download the podcasts you want to hear when you’re within a Wi-Fi connection and it will be available for offline listen.
  • I can’t find the series.
    • Solution:Search for it within the podcast app. If the series you want to hear is not available as a podcast then explore the other options mentioned below.
  • I don’t know where I am up to
    • Solution:The podcast player will remember your playback position, so you can listen to multiple audios without losing the place for any of them.

Audio Files (Mp3 Files)

You may have got a hold of audio files online, from a CD or a seminar you’ve attended.

How to Set up for Listening:
Download all the files to your computer then transfer it to your listening device or download them directly to your device.

Possible Obstacles:

  • I don’t know where I am up to.
    • Solution:Most of the audio players that come with your devices are made with music listening in mind so the feature of remembering where you are up to is not as reliable. For this reason, I recommend the app Astro Media Player (android). There’s also the Audiobook & Podcast Player for iOS devices.
  • I don’t have enough space on my device.
    • Solution:If your device has expandable memory, then invest in a good memory card. Otherwise, put all the files into cloud storage (such as Dropbox) and download it bit by bit (for example: download five files, listen to them, delete them, and then download the next five and so on.)

YouTube

There is a lot of great stuff on YouTube and it’s probably the first place you go to when looking for media to consume.

How to Set up for Listening:

Download the YouTube app onto your device (if it hasn’t been pre-installed already).

Possible Obstacles:

  • I don’t know where I am up to.
    • Solution:Once you have the YouTube app and have logged in, there is an option called ‘history.’ From there you can view all the videos you have watched and track your progress. Also, if you want to continue listening on your computer and are logged in, YouTube will automatically resume from where you left off
  • I can’t listen without an internet connection.
    • Solution:You can turn the videos into audio files using a service that makes it possible (Google: ‘YouTube to audio’) but it can be a lengthy process. Mobile data is another option (if your mobile plan gives you generous amounts of data) otherwise, watch videos when you’re within a Wi-Fi connection.

Videos

Video series can be from online video libraries such as Bayyinah TV.

How to Set up for Listening:

  1. Assuming that these videos will work on your devices properly, go to the website using your mobile browser.
  2. Save the login credentials (so you can login automatically).
  3. Go to the series you want to listen to.
  4. Bookmark that page, if possible, as a shortcut on your device’s desktop.

Now every time you want to listen, click on the direct bookmark and resume.

Possible Obstacles:

  • I keep forgetting where I am up to.
    • Solution:Manual tracking. Create a note on your device and update it each time you finish a segment or pause somewhere. This may sound a bit cumbersome, but it isn’t at all.

 

3) Open up More Listening Opportunities

It’s true – you can’t increase the amount of hours you have in a day, but who says you can’t squeeze every minute out of it?

The best hack for this is investing in a Bluetooth headset. A Bluetooth headset allows you to listen to audios from your devices without all the wires.

When purchasing a Bluetooth headset, I strongly recommend you skip the cheap stuff and go for quality since you will be using it a lot. I use Philips Bluetooth In-Ear Headset SHB5000.

With a Bluetooth headset, mindless tasks – such as drying clothes, washing the dishes and exercising – become listening opportunities, since you can listen without being attached to your device. If you want to take it a step further, get Bluetooth installed into your car (if it’s not built in already). This way, every car ride becomes a listening opportunity.

 

4) Make it Happen

You know what you want to listen to, you have set it up, got the equipment ready – now you need to make it happen!

The way to do this is by making your listening automatically happen.

How?

Simply by deciding beforehand what you will be listening to so when the opportunity comes up, instead of wasting precious time deciding (should I listen to x or y today?) you can get straight into it automatically.

No doubt, there will be times in which listening opportunities come unexpectedly, but for the most part, our lives are made up of the same daily routines.

This is how to do it:

1) Identify re-occurring brainless time blocks in which there are little to no distractions.
For example: Picking up your kids from school consists of two journeys – driving to the school (by yourself) and driving back home (with the screaming kids). The first journey would fall under this but the second would not. This category can also include things like commuting to work, low-intensity workouts, etc.

2) Record what you will be listening to during this time.
You can write this down into your calendar or on a paper somewhere and put it near the location you will be listening to the audio, for example, in the glove box of the car.

Here’s an example from my calendar. I have a commitment between 4.30pm to 6.30pm, which consists of two driving journeys.

Untitled

T means to place, and F means from place. This is useful if each journey is long and you want more variety in your listening.

 

3) Stick to it.
Treat it like your personal radio station.

This is the basic gist of automating listening. You can play around with it and do things like work around themes, for example, Quranic tafseer in the morning drive to work when your mind is fresh, and a light entertaining series when driving back.

Whatever you decide on, try your best to plan beforehand and avoid indecisiveness.

(Bonus) For Extra Geek Points: 

  • Increase playback speed of audio:You can do this within your podcast or audio player app (this is how to do it for YouTube). Warning: Excess usage may result in talking fast (source: experience).
  • Remove silences:Remove the pauses and silences in an audio. This can be enabled through a podcast app.

 

That’s about it.

I’m big fan of planning it forward by taking the time to set up a solid system and then letting it all happen, because the secret is that the little actions add up. And before you know it, you’ll be zooming through and listening to all the things you have dreamed of but never got a chance to.

 

What Your Time Is Worth.
10 minutes per day = 60 hours spent in a year.
20 minutes per day = 121 hours spent in a year.
30 minutes per day = 182 hours spent in a year.

For more guilt – think of where social media fits into to that ;)

Now that you have learned the art of listening, I’m interested in knowing: What are some of your favorite series you have completed or are looking to complete?

 

Mifrah Mahroof is an entrepreneur, life hacker and curious adventurer based in Sydney, Australia. She is the co-founder of Muslim Life Hackers, which is all about helping Muslims get more out of life and also hosts the podcast show.

To connect with her work, read more articles and how to guides like this, check out muslimlifehackers.com

12 / View Comments

12 responses to “The Art of Getting through Long Islamic Lecture Series”

  1. Danish says:

    Assalamualaikum. I am currently listening to the Seerah podcast by Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda. I started listening to it on the drive to work and back. But now that I have caught up with the episodes, I listen to it at home weekly on the PC when a new episode comes out. I also listen to a series – “The Afterlife” on the drive to/from work.

    • Mifrah says:

      Walaikum Asalam, that’s great! Thanks for sharing. I’ve just started the Seerah by Sheikh Abdul Nasir but still have a long way to go (my time for this is 15 mins, using the podcast timer, at the end of the day as I’m getting ready for bed).

    • daineso says:

      Waalaikumussalam,

      Could you tell me the afterlife series is by which speaker?

      Thank you

  2. Shahab says:

    I am almost about to finish the seerah series by Sh. Yasir Qadhi alhamdolillah. Best way for me is to have it on my podcast and listen to it while driving. Maybe next year I will start the seerah series by Sheikh Abdul Nasir, after reading about it here. My next aim is to go through the many lectures by Ustadh Nouman, Sh. Omar Suleiman and Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury (through podcasts).

  3. Iqra says:

    Jazakumullah khairan kaseera for this wonderfully useful article. I’m currently following Bayyinah TV’s Ramadan 2015 lecture series.

  4. Iqra says:

    P.S.: Which do you think is better, note-taking and reading the notes later, or listening to a lecture/series twice?

    • Mifrah says:

      Salams Iqra, great question. Really depends on what’s doable and practical for you because many times in the pursuit of what’s better, we end up procrastinating and not doing anything at all because it was too difficult. So my take on this is to do what’s easy for you & enjoy the series! :)

  5. […] This post was originally published on MuslimMatters.com […]

  6. […] a summarized book of the seerah, such as “When the Moon Split”, or covering an advanced book or in-depth video series, but ultimately, everyone should try to cover the basics at least […]

  7. star says:

    Salam everyone,

    Hope that all of you are in good health. I recently, lost my iPhone in the market place, and realized it when i came back home. I got soo upset, and prayed to Allah at night and kept on doing dua the whole day, and then i found this dua for lost things on your website and i recited it a few times with sincerity and conviction. Within five minutes, I could track his location and got a call from that person. I got soo relieved and thanked Allah for everything. Really, it was a miracle from Allah.

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