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Piles of Stuff: A Reflection on Consumerism

Bismillah

I went straight to my room after returning from my uncle’s janazah (funeral prayer). He died from Leukemia and had just returned from umrah a few weeks before his death. Upon entering my room, the thought that he was being placed into the ground and the men covering him with dirt was so heavy. I thought of how much he helped others whenever he could, whether financially or psychically. I thought of how he would drive my mom every Saturday for nearly an hour to take her to a Qur’an class in a different city because she was scared to drive for such a long distance at night time. He would drive around in his bright blue hatchback from 1995, even though he was more than able to afford a newer, shinier car, because he thought it was a waste of money. I thought of his small apartment and his belongings and who would sort through his things. I then started to look around my room, books here, clothes there, CDs on that side and packages on the other.

I couldn’t hold back the tears.

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I finally understood Surah At-Takathur:

أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ
The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you,

حَتَّىٰ زُرْتُمُ الْمَقَابِر
Until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die).

This was nearly four years ago. I didn’t realize how many useless things I had until a loved one moved on to the next life and left behind all of his belongings. I thought of my useless belongings and who would go through them after my death.

We live in a word of consumption. We are consumed with consumerism – constantly buying and buying – to the point where we run out of space in our homes for everything we buy. We are transfixed when we see a store that has “BLOWOUT SALE!” written in its window. We can’t help but line up in the freezing cold for that newer model, telling ourselves that we can’t be seen with last year’s model. We swipe and swipe until our cards are worn out. We compete with friends and family to see who can buy the shinier and fancier product first.

For what? For stuff.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Ruined is the slave of the dinar, dirham, and fancy clothes of velvet and silk! If he is given, he is pleased, and if he is not given, he is displeased.” (Bukhari) Who is a slave? A slave is someone who is bound by his master. He must answer to his master when he calls, and he spends his time in servitude to him. Similarly, the slave of money constantly has money on their mind. They think of ways to get more of it while they spend and spend. The slave of money always wants more, and he cannot bear it when he does not receive it. It runs their life, and it is their first priority. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says this person is ruined because he will never be able to be thankful for what he has. Allah says,

وَكَانَ الْإِنسَانُ كَفُورًا

And man is ever ungrateful. (17:67)

This cycle of consumerism has turned us into slaves of Dollar Bill, while we should only be slaves to Allah (The Most High). Our servitude belongs only to Him. This worldly life is not meant for us to fill our homes with stuff. We should be using this life to come closer to Allah and not to be diverted from Him. Just as a slave is exhausted from his labor, our constant consumerism tires us. We are consumed with consuming. We are tired. Even if we may not spend constantly, we still own too many things, most of which we cannot even remember purchasing. Piles and piles just lying around.

Allah ‘azza wa jal reminds us in the Qur’an,

إِنَّمَا هَذِهِ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا مَتَاعٌ وَإِنَّ الْآخِرَةَ هِيَ دَارُ الْقَرَارِ

This worldly life is only [temporary] enjoyment, and indeed, the Hereafter – that is the home of [permanent] settlement. (40:39)

These possessions that we hoard may be our safety net and our “cool” factor in this life, but the reality will come after we die. These things that we worked so hard for, saved up our salaries for, and stood in line for don’t really belong to us. They cannot keep us company in our graves, rather they will be taken by other people. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Three things follow a dead man, two of which will return and one will remain with him. His family, his property and his deeds follow him but his family and property return, while his deeds remain with him.” [Bukhari]

It will be hard for us to break free of the shackles of Dollar Bill because it is the nature of humans to always want and want. The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) tells us, “If the son of Adam had money equal to a valley, then he will wish for another similar to it, for nothing can satisfy the eye of Adam’s son except dust.” [Bukhari]

This is how we were created. We will always look to what people have around us and desire it for ourselves. We will slowly walk past that store, and gaze longingly into all that shiny-ness. It is not impossible though to remove ourselves from it. Allah does not burden anyone beyond what they cannot bear. When we taste the sweetness of freedom after slavery, we will see how much it was weighing us down.

We find our best example in the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). He was undeniably the ruler of Arabia at the time of his death, yet his home was bare. When Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) asked him why he lived in such a way while the kings of Persia and Rome were living lavishly, he responded, “The example of me and this worldly life is like that of a rider traveling on a hot summer day, so he took shelter in the shadow of a tree for an hour, then left it and went on his way.” [Tirmidhi]

After I realized how much stuff I had that day, I’ve taken measures to keep myself from falling into the cycle again:

1- Avoiding malls unless its necessary. Malls are designed to make us buy things and window displays are meant to lure us in. You can keep yourself from the temptation by not putting yourself in that situation.

2- When you get something, give something. It is so easy to forget how much stuff we have piled in our homes. It is only when you move or travel that this realization comes. When you buy something, find something else to give as sadaqah (charity) or give it to a sibling or a friend.

3- Ask yourself if this item will bring you closer to Allah or if it will benefit you after you die. Do you really need it? Most of the time, the answer is no.

4- Stick with people who don’t remind you of at-takathur, the competition to see who can get the best. Surround yourself with friends who compete with you in good deeds instead.

5- Keep it simple. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to be in this world as a traveler. We’ve all seen those poor souls at the airports  struggling to carry and lugging around way too much luggage. Don’t be one of them.

6- Go to a developing country and see how the vast majority of humanity lives. If you can’t go, then read the World News. I’ve never witnessed poverty like I saw in Egypt. I felt disgusted in myself and in our culture for how wasteful and ungrateful we are, while they were so thankful for the simple piece of bread they were able to have for dinner.

7- Read the biography of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the lives of the Companions and righteous and see how they lived. We may not be able to live how they lived, but we can be as simple as they were in our own way. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Do you not hear? Do you not hear? Simplicity (in life) is part of Faith, simplicity is part of Faith.”[Abu Dawood]

8- Count your blessings. Literally. Reflect on how much you have, and how much Allah has given you…and how much you given to Him.

9- Try not to be wasteful, and teach any young ones around you not to be wasteful. Be it with food or even when taking notes. Why leave a whole page blank when it can be used? Allah says, “and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He likes not those who waste by extravagance.” (7:31)

10- Focus on the hereafter, and Allah will give you the dunya. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “For the ones whose concern is this world Allah will scatter his affair, and place poverty between his two eyes. And he will not get from the world except what is written for him. And for the one whose intention is the hereafter Allah will gather for him his affair and place contentment in his heart, and the world will come to him willingly.‌” [ibn Majah]

11- Ask Allah (Glorified is He) to make you content with what you have, and to make His Pleasure your goal. Ask Him to make you among those who are grateful and patient, and among those who race in good deeds and not of those who race in amassing possessions. You will realize that contentment is the real treasure.

If these tips aren’t enough to help you, then think of the last ayah of Surah At-Takathur:

ثُمَّ لَتُسْأَلُنَّ يَوْمَئِذٍ عَنِ النَّعِيمِ
Then, on that Day, you shall be asked about the delight (you indulged in, in this world)!

Can you imagine standing in front of Allah, Lord of all that exists, and being asked about the stuff we spoiled ourselves with?

Free yourself now from the shackles of Dollar Bill, before your time is up and your belongings will be left for someone else to sort through.

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Amatullah is a student of the Qur'an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta'leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur'an, Tajwid (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has a Bachelors in Social Work and will be completing the Masters program in 2014 inshaAllah. Her experience includes working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement and accessibility for people with disabilities.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Kanika Aggarwal

    March 30, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon

    jazzak Allah khair for the reminder and practical advice – these are my thoughts exactly every time we have to pack up for a move, subhanAllah.

    أَلْهَاكُمُ التَّكَاثُرُ
    The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you,

    حَتَّىٰ زُرْتُمُ الْمَقَابِر
    Until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die).

    ^ another practical tip would be to post this ayah on your credit card or wallet so it can serve as a reminder inshaAllah :)

  2. Avatar

    UmmSarah

    March 30, 2011 at 7:51 AM

    MashaAllah. Our current state of ummah needs serious change of focus to reality which is death.

  3. Avatar

    Amina

    March 30, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    Jazaakillahu Khairan! A timely reminder indeed.A much needed one.May Allah enable us to be among His beloved slaves.ameen

  4. Yahya Ibrahim

    Yahya Ibrahim

    March 30, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    I have benefited from this. Thank you. I ask Allah to grant your uncle His Divine Mercy.

    Yahya

    http://www.facebook.com/yahya.adel.ibrahim

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      March 30, 2011 at 10:17 PM

      Ameen, jazaak Allahu khayran Shaykh.

  5. Avatar

    Chocolate Addict

    March 30, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    Salaams,
    JazakAllahu khayr for this very beneficial post dear sis…I have too benefitted immensely May Allah azza wa jall grant your uncle the highest of jannah and cure us all from this obsessive love for wealth ameen

  6. Avatar

    Brian

    March 30, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    Jesus said similar things in Luke 12:16-21 ““The land of a rich man was very productive. 17“And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18“Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ 21“So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

  7. Amad

    Amad

    March 30, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    Wealth is indeed a great fitnah… just look at some of the world’s richest men, they couldn’t spend what they had in 10 lfetimes, yet they can’t stop wanting more…

    On the other side of this, though, you have miserliness. People who will just not spend at all, even when they should!

    The balance, like all things in life, is critical.

  8. Avatar

    Madeeha

    March 30, 2011 at 12:21 PM

    mashaAllaah excellent reminder, jazakillahu khairan!

  9. Avatar

    Leo

    March 30, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    Assalamu alaikum. Thank you for writing the article- Good reminders and good advice.
    I have a few questions to ask if I may. Is it wrong for me to occasionally treat myself by buying something I don’t need but can give me pleasure? What are your views when it comes to ambition in dunya- is it wrong? How about when it comes to progressing in my career? As I progress I earn more. Is it wrong for me to earn or want to earn more?
    Your thoughts would be appreciated.

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      March 30, 2011 at 10:17 PM

      wa alaykum salam wa rahmatullah. No there is nothing wrong with that, and there is nothing wrong with being wealthy. The only thing we have to be careful of is being wasteful and extravagant (and that varies from person to person based on their wealth and ability). Abu Bakr, AbdulRahman ibn Awf, Uthman ibn Affan were very wealthy businessmen but they did not let the dunya take over their focus on the aakhirah. Allah knows best.

  10. Avatar

    Sabeen

    March 30, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    Jazakallah Khair for a beautiful reminder :) Br. Nouman has an amazing Tafseer of Sura Takathur on Bayyinah Podcast.
    http://bayyinah.com/podcast/2010/01/19/102-takathur/

  11. Avatar

    Hena Zuberi

    March 30, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    I went on a spending fast Amatullah- it was hard and I wanted to go spend & spend afterwords but Alhmadulillah I controlled myself.

    I thought of my useless belongings and who would go through them after my death.

    and then we will have to carry it on our backs on the day of Qiyamah, May Allah forgive us all.

    My sister and I made a pact that if we would make any fancy clothes esp wedding clothes- we would see if we could spend at least 50% of the amount in charity, if we couldn’t then we wouldn’t buy it.
    Alhamdulillah made us realize how MUCH we spend on clothes- we could pay for someone whole wedding in Pakistan. The worst is when you control one aspect and then go out and spend it somewhere else.

  12. Avatar

    Fear Allah

    March 30, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    the tips were very helpful -esp. the give something away when you get something. this way the resources can get circulated around and won’t be hoarded up in your graveyard of things, half of them unused…

    BarakAllahu feeki

  13. Avatar

    Umm Ibraheem

    March 31, 2011 at 1:08 AM

    Excellent reminder! Many of us, especially in the ‘practicing’ crowd are in denial that we are victims of consumerism. I know that this is one of my biggest weaknesses, I get lured very easily by the false promises that these products give.

    Whenever I meet some one who is very simple and has no love for these things I am fascinated and pray that Allah make me like them for my hereafter’s sake.

    The more you buy the more you hoard and the more time spent cleaning, storing, washing, ironing, finding, disposing, these consumables truly consume you. May Allah save us all from this and keep us busy in His remembrance and focused on the ultimate destination.

  14. Avatar

    Haseeb J

    March 31, 2011 at 1:40 AM

    This may be of benefit….its only 20 mins long

    http://www.storyofstuff.com
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLBE5QAYXp8

  15. Avatar

    Haseeb J

    March 31, 2011 at 1:41 AM

    This may be of benefit….its only 20 mins long

    http://www.storyofstuff.com
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLBE5QAYXp8

  16. Avatar

    Mariam E.

    March 31, 2011 at 8:11 AM

    Asalamu Alikum

    MashaAllah, this really is a great reminder. Jazaki Allah khayr Amatullah.

  17. Avatar

    MuslimAmerican

    March 31, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Right on. Jazak Allah Khair.

    I guess, that’s the reason that people of ILM (Aalims & Scholars) are simple and are not so much obsessed with ‘things’ in this life. I’m humbled when i see them.

    And Allah Knows Best.

  18. Avatar

    life is a test

    March 31, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh!!

    JazakaAllah Khayr!! this is a very beneficial reminder!!

    I would add another thing related to this… lets open our fridge and kitchen cabinets and see the excess stuff in there….many of us are guilty (including me) of not realizing some stuff reaching the expiry date and thus throwing them away :(
    Astagfirullah!

    seriously moderation is the key….only catering to our “needs” instead of our never ending list of “wants” will save us not only in the akhira but also will save us in this world from the burdens associated with these “wants”.

  19. Avatar

    Rafa

    April 3, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Jazak Allah for the article, really needed the reminder.

    Here’s a relevant video that really made me think. Highly recommend it.

    Jesus (PBUH) • Third Loaf of Bread • The Life of This World
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk4nzv_WbB4

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#Islam

30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 15: Fruit Out of Season

Now that we have learnt about making our intentions big, let’s now talk about fruit out of season.

Who can tell me who Maryam raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) is

Yes, she was the mother of ‘Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), and also the best woman to ever live. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an that He chose her over all the women in the world.

Question: Do you know that she was also the niece to a Prophet? Does anyone know her uncle’s name? 

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His name is Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), good job! Do you know that Prophet Zakariya  'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)  was actually inspired by something he saw in Maryam’s raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) room? It’s unusual for adults to admit that they learn from younger people, but we actually do, all the time! 

One day, Prophet Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) went inside Maryam’s raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) room and he saw fruit that was out of season. 

Question: Can anyone tell me what fruit would be out of season in the spring, but we love to eat it in the summertime? Can we get that same fruit in the wintertime?

Well, Maryam raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) would get fruit that was supposed to only grow in the summer during the wintertime too! This was a gift that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) would give her. Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was so amazed by this! He asked Maryam raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) how she came upon the fruit and she replied:

 هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

“It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without measure.” [Surat Ali ‘Imran; 37] 

Now, by this time, Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was very old. And when you get to be very old, it is very unusual to have any more children. Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and his wife never had any children at all. But, he was so inspired by what his niece said that he raised his hands in dua’ and asked Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for a child. Even though having a child seemed  impossible because it was “out of season” for Prophet Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) he asks anyway knowing that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) can grant us anything- even if it is not “in season!”

Question: Can we get that same fruit in the wintertime?Did Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) answer Prophet Zakariya’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) dua’? 

Yes! Prophet Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was blessed with Yahya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), who too became a Prophet and was the cousin of Prophet ‘Isa  'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)!

This shows us that it’s never too late or too early to ask for what our heart desires. Maybe Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will grant you something that is out of season too!

 

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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#Islam

How to Optimize Your Free Time

Time passes by. Many of us muddle through time, day in and day out. Only the wise and the prophets talked about the art of utilizing time in order to exist. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth before you become old; your health, before you fall sick; your wealth, before you become poor; your free time before you become preoccupied, and your life, before your death.”

Time, therefore, is the commodity of all endeavors. We all have 24 hours a day, and we choose how to use them. If you think you have wasted much time on miscellaneous activities last night, weekend, month, or even the years that have passed, then be hopeful that tomorrow inshaAllah you will have a balance of 24 hours. A new slate of opportunity. How will you make use of it?

Let’s take a case study of how an average professional spends his time through a weekday.

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Ahmed is in his mid-20s and works as an engineer. He wakes up for Fajr at 6am, and then gets ready for work to leave home at 8am. The 45 minutes he takes to commute to and from work each day is his favorite time to scroll through his social media and stay up-to-date with the latest news. He spends 8 hours at work. He arrives home in the evening at 6pm, and then eats dinner with his family. He dabbles in and out of conversations with his parents or siblings, and at 7pm he begins watching his favorite show on Netflix -and that’s an hour or two depending on the persuasion of the “Next Episode” button. His social media presence is most alive at 9pm, during the minutes after his show and before his bedtime. He looks at the clock on his wall and thinks about getting to bed soon. At 10pm he takes a dive into YouTube, and sometimes reads an article or two. Ahmed loses his sense of time between shows, likes, and endless scrolls. By the time he regains his consciousness of time, everyone else has fallen asleep.

What Ahmed is unaware of, is that millions of dollars are spent on algorithms for social media and entertainment platforms to keep people engaged. They are all competing for our time, and in exchange, provide us with only instant gratification. Finally, Ahmed falls asleep at 11pm to wake up early again for Fajr the next day.

Shall we do the count? Before we do, let us take no interest in how Ahmed spends his 8 hours at work, including his lunch hour. But the rest are for us to dissect.

Ahmed arrives home at 6pm and goes to bed at 11 pm; 5 hours each day that passes by untamed. In order to bring about any change to his day, Ahmed must then assume that there is another day that starts at 6pm. A day within a day[1]. He says he comes home tired, but we are only urging him to make use of 90 minutes out of the 5 hours. As for the rest, he can do with them as he pleases. Ahmed agrees, but asks what to do about the temptation to be on social media. Here are some tips:

  • Create friction between your finger and the undesired applications on your phone. Don’t place social media applications on your home page; this will give your brain the chance to think twice before utilizing them.
  • Most smart phones allow you to set screen time for each application. Set a daily time limit of one hour for all them.
  • Fast from social media for a duration of 24 hours once a week, and utilize that time to appreciate the small things. Make a conscious effort to spend quality time with family or call an old friend.

Now shall we talk about the 90 minutes?

Now that Ahmed has generously vowed to account for 90 minutes of his day, I want to give back to him the days of his weekend.

هَلْ جَزَاءُ الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ 

“Is there any reward for good other than good?” [Surah Ar-Rahman; 60]

Therefore, let us deal with the daily 90 minutes between Monday and Friday. 90 minutes a day over 5 days gives you nearly 8 hours. Those 8 hours are your self-realization hours. They are your bread and butter. They are yours. Do with them what your natural inclination calls for; go to the gym, write poetry, write stories, get a start at memorizing the Quran, read, attempt a new language, start a business , volunteer at your local masjid or nonprofit, help organize fundraisers for humanitarian causes, or even start a conviction circle. Let these hours be sacred for you to protect with sword and shield.

I speak humbly from experience. For me, these 8 hours are my reading time. For example, in the past I used 2 months of 90 minutes a day reading on Islamic history, therefore, I read Lost Islamic History, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Islam Between East and West. I hadn’t planned on reading those particular books, but one led to the other. I could have also finished Lost Islamic History and chosen a  few of the sources from its bibliography. My next topic was Art, and currently it’s Seerah; I started with Yasir Qadhi’s – Seerah series, then I plan to read Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings (for this subject such order is important). I have also used the 90 minutes attending reading groups, organizing weekly halaqas, and strategizing with my local masjid board on how to increase voter turnout during elections.

You’re probably assuming that I have figured out the formula of time management. I must tell you I don’t. It’s all a matter of process, and I took am still working on it.

So, whenever it is that you decide to start productively using time that can be spared, my personal experience has shown that it’s best not to ask questions or plan a year ahead. Just start as if you’re jumping inside a pool, and as the days pass, you will develop the appreciation of time passing by. You will acquire the muscle to make use of it. Also, start slow. Don’t listen to your blind motivation in the beginning; do little, but be consistent, for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) loves this too. As The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“The most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.”

Eventually, making better use of those 90 minutes will become a habit, but when it does, don’t worship it. If you are sick or have a family obligation, take it as a reminder of your humanity. We are wingless creatures that strive for the stars, and some days we must fall on our faces. Brush off the dust and aim to do it again the next day.

One last note: be humble. Don’t be self-righteous, and begin to talk about how many books you’re reading or reps you’re reaching.

وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ الْأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولًا 

“Walk not on the earth with arrogance. Verily, you can neither penetrate the earth, nor can you attain a stature like the mountains in height.” [Surah Al-Isra; 37]

It helps me breathe and reorient my priorities. Be still, keep your feet on the ground and vision aimed at the skies.

Ahmed, my old friend, now is your turn to begin to feel time— pass by.

 

 

[1] Bennett, Arnold. How to live on 24 Hours a day, George H. Doran Company 1910.

 

 

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 14: Making Our Intentions Big

Now that we have learnt about the Prophet Adam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and the Shaytan, let’s now talk about Prophet Adam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and the Shaytan.

Question: Have any of you heard the phrase:  إنما الأعمال بالنية  (innamal ’amaalu bi-niyyaat)? Does anyone know what it means? 

It means that actions are judged by their intentions. 

Question: What does it mean to intend something? Do you need to say your intention out loud?

An intention is something that you feel internally – it is the ‘why’ behind your actions. 

Question: Do you think we always make intentions behind the things we do?

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If we really tried to make an intention behind every small thing, it would probably cause us some frustration. Most of our actions are done out of habit anyway; like making our beds, brushing our teeth, and making our meals. But, what if we started to be more intentional with the way we operated? What good do you think could come out of it?

Maybe we wouldn’t be so quick to lose our temper. Maybe we could get even more hasanat (reward) for transforming our ordinary chores into extraordinary acts of worship!

One day, Imam ash-Shafi’, a great scholar of Islam -may Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) be pleased with him-, had some students over at his house when they heard someone knock on the door. One of his students went to answer the door, and Imam ash-Shafi’ stopped him and asked him what he was doing.

“I’m going to answer the door,” the student replied.

Imam ash-Shafi’ said, “Before you answer the door, make the intention that if it is a poor person seeking help, you will give them charity. And if it is a guest, that you will host them.” 

Something as simple as answering the door became a way to get lots of rewards! How? Well, whenever we make a good intention, we get the reward for it even if we are unable to do it. That’s how generous Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is, and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) can reward a good intention up to 700 times!

I want each of you to pick something ordinary that you always do and make your intention behind it very big! 

[A parent can give the example of washing the dishes: Intend to have a clean home, intend to make dhikr while washing the dishes, intend to have clean plates and utensils for us to be nourished and well fed, all so that we can be healthy and remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His blessings etc.]

Now, who wants to share?

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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