Note: Below is a response to Br. IbnabeeOmar’s article, “How Much Should Islamic Clergy Make?“
I read MuslimMatters articles from time to time but don’t really comment on the things much. However, I felt it would be of some benefit to comment to this particular article, ‘How Much Should Islamic Clergy Make?’
Allāh blessed me to be around a very good masjid that was active and firm on the Sunnah in my late teen years. The Imaam was very respected by all of us and he was there for me even at the wee hours of night if I had any problems. Masha’Allāh the community understood the importance of knowledge and taking care of the one giving out the knowledge so that he is able to dedicate 100 percent of his time to the da’wah rather than getting a side job to support himself and his family. He was our Imaam for about 5 years. We used to have regular full-fledged explanations of texts and also would invite well known shuyookh (scholars) from USA for weekend workshops every now and then. On top of that, we would also have regular tele-conferences with the scholars in Jordan, Kuwait, etc.
In those 5 years the masjid produced 4 full-time du‘aat, one of them being myself Alhamdulillah. I’m finishing up my degree soon and another brother from that masjid is about half-way done at Madinah University. The Masjid was always the hub for the Muslims. Unfortunately, only in recent times have the Muslims forgotten the importance of the House of Allāh. Who wants to deal with ignorant bullies who run the Masaajid these days? That’s why we find so many Masaajid across the United States that are void of duroos. They just have daily prayers, a Jumu‘ah, and a terrible Sunday school structure, yet we see people flocking to these institutes because that is the only choice they have.
Alhamdulillah I’ve had the opportunity to visit quite a few states and universities for da‘wah programs during the majority of this past decade. I’ve also served as an Imaam for a few Masaajid and had the privilege to work with an Islamic organization/school. I noticed a few people raised concerns that imams/teachers shouldn’t be paid but should do da’wah and look after a community for free because that would prevent them from corruption. Fear of corruption is great concern, but that also applies to fame. We’ve seen many tullaabul‘ilm change as they got more and more famous. And as Imaam Ahmad said so fittingly – the less people know you, the better. In any case, I want to share my story with you all so that you realize what extreme cases exist out there.
My father is a scientist, MashaAllāh and my entire family is very well known in my country for their wealth and education. I’ve seen more money in my life than any of these Masaajid in USA can “tempt” me with. Ever since I broke the news to my family that I want to become a Da’ee bi idhnillaah, and I felt I can do more for this ummah by dedicating my time to seeking knowledge and spreading it, I became the black sheep of the family. From the moment I wanted to pursue being a Da’ee full-time, I had in my mind that I will do da‘wah for free since my family has so much wealth. I wanted to spend a few days a week giving time to all the various family businesses with my uncles (even though my dad thought I should forget that and da‘wah and just focus on being a doctor!) and the other days giving classes at the Masjid from whatever little I knew. Qaddar Allāhu maa shaa afa‘al, my family treated me like dirt and said since I’m in Allāh’s path I should help expand their businesses as an act of sadaaqah towards them. After all, helping your kin is a great deed in Islam. So yea that plan didn’t work out, Alhamdulillah! My father, who does not pray, thinks science is bigger than religion (may Allāh guide him) and gave me a terrible time as I grew up. I never knew how to pray, never knew how to read one ayah from the Qur’an. It was through that Masjid that I mentioned in the beginning, that I learned how to pray, read and develop a love for Islam and more specifically the Sunnah. There were times my dad severely beat me for going to the Masjid and I would show up for the duroos severely bruised. Our Imaam would shed tears looking at me and told me no matter what happens he would always have a special kind of love for me and would give me more of his time whenever I needed it. As I grew older, obviously all that torture stopped. My parents moved back to the city where I grew up and my dad traveled a lot between the United States and other countries due to his work as he also was part of the government in the country he’s from.
While visiting my mother after a couple of years, I gave a few duroos and khutbahs at a local Masjid where she lived. One of them offered me to be the Imaam for them since they had nobody. They noticed the youth really liked me and thought I would benefit them. Let me tell you briefly about this specific community. They had teens doing drugs 20 feet away from the Masjid, pre-teen girls getting pregnant by kuffaar men and fornication that happened inside the house of Allāh! The only reason why I made the move was because my mother had developed an incurable disease and her condition was terrible. I thought being with my mother and doing da‘wah work is a huge chance for me to earn reward bi idhnillaah. Nevertheless, I was part of the community for approximately 1 year. For the first three months they did not pay me a penny. I complained to them that I cannot be doing this full-time and not be given anything in return. So they told me to take over a new project which was to teach kids Qur’an & Islamic studies and I’d be paid for being a teacher. I agreed. I continued to be the Imaam for free and took money for just the weekend school. They paid me $300 a month for teaching 45 kids by myself.
Alhamdulillah, I really wanted to help and I didn’t care about being an Imaam for free. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of these children and young adults. The day I said in the Masjid, “Ar-Rahmaanu ‘alal ‘arsh istawaa” was the day I got fired. I don’t know how they can call it “fired” when they never even hired me in the first place to be the Imaam. Hire would mean you pay a salary to the one designated as an Imaam but I was doing it for free! The admin started complaining that I ruined their kids, made them into “wahabis” and that I needed to go. So their kids doing drugs and committing zina was much better for them then to have their kids learn that Allāh is above us. SubhanAllāh! To this day, children and teenagers that I taught and counseled regularly keep in touch with me through emails and tell me how much they miss me, thanking me for the help I happily and readily gave to them. Many of them still remember everything I taught them and they carried it throughout their lives growing up, mashaAllah.
While being part of that community I visited other Masaajid regularly. So after I left them, I became the Imaam at a suburban Masjid. I was the Imaam there for three years. I faced a lot of resistance continuously from about 30 people out of 250; but the admin was on my side and Alhamdulillah, together we were able to do a lot of good in just three years. We even had to expand the Masjid to accommodate more attendees at Jumu‘ah. My salary was not that great at all. I was getting $1,600/month for those three years. During that time I visited my native country to see my relatives. While I was there, my own father (who was part of the government) wanted to imprison me with the excuse that I was a fanatic. Let me be clear, I know very well that killing non-combatants, women & children is not the Islam brought by Muhammad . He wanted to do that so I couldn’t come back to the USA and continue da‘wah work. He thought keeping me in prison would be the best way to make me give up the path of da‘wah. Alhamdulilah, he was not successful in his malicious ways and I made it back safe to the United States.
I never complained nor ever made any demands. I did not get into this field for the money. If I loved money so much, I could have just stayed with my relatives. I was a single man. I did not have rent to pay since I was living in my parents’ house so I rarely had any expenses. Rather, I lost out in something great. Marriage! I simply wasn’t able to afford to get married. I got rejected by about 7-8 prospects because of my financial situation. Alhamdulillah after being patient for 7 full years trying to get married, I finally got the wife of my dreams. I was invited by the MSA of a university in New York to do a non-Muslim da‘wah program. I did it, and from there I got re-invited another two times at their local Masjid. It was when I went there that a sister from the administration asked if I was married or not. So I told the sister I’m looking. She suggested the daughter of her friend for me. So I took the girl’s father’s number and after a month I called him up. My wife is Arab and I’m a desi, but Alhamdulillah there were no racial problems because her father told me that he does not care simply because of what my profession is. The marriage cost me an arm and a leg. Both our families wanted to have typical weddings that cost thousands & thousands. Alhamdulillah, the only good thing my dad ever did after I took this path was pay for all the wedding costs. I truly believe it was from Allāh and a reward for my efforts over the years.
My wife, mashaAllāh, understands what it means to be the wife of a da’ee extremely well. So now that I was married, obviously $1,600/month was not going to cut it. The Masjid got taken over by those same 30 people that were always being resistant to the da‘wah. They played some sly games to prevent the good brothers from being re-elected. It took them three years to plan this out, but they finally were successful. They got rid of every previous member from the administration as well as me. This is the reality of typical dirty Masjid politics. After that I moved on to another Masjid. I signed a contract with them, but obviously typical Muslims don’t care about any contracts. The contract was for $2000/ month. They only paid me $1,200/month. If I did not care about the image of Islam and only cared about money, I could have taken them to court and sued them for not complying with the signed contract. Instead, I made Du‘aa to Allāh to remove myself from this situation and to guide the brothers to Haqq. HasbiAllāhu wa ni‘mal wakeel.
I and my wife still made it by simply because we didn’t have rent to pay. But my parents’ house was 1 hour away from the Masjid and it was not feasible for me to travel such long distances every day. In spite of everything I still did this for 6 months. I then told them I needed a pay increase so I can afford an apartment closer to the Masjid. I never tell people about my family background because I know how people can be and what I worried about came true. One of the admins found out the wealthy state of my family and told the rest of the administration. At the next meeting, the administration told me, “Your father and family are very rich, why are you asking for a raise? Just take money from your family.” HasbiAllaahu wa ni‘mal wakeel.
My mother, even though being permanently disabled, is the ONLY person in my entire family that truly understood what I do in my life. She told me that I could not live like this any longer and have to think about myself and my wife. My mother didn’t know the exact details of my finances but she knew it wasn’t a lot to live fairly and comfortably with a family. I made a very good relationship with a lot of youth in the city and I just didn’t want to go to a different city. I knocked on my family’s door again and asked him to give me my inheritance so I can do something with my wealth. That way I can do da‘wah for free and not have to deal with ridiculous administrations. My father wrote off about $10-$12 million worth of property (meaning what I’m supposed to inherit from him) to my paternal cousins. He did that right in front of my eyes and then said to me – “ You’re in the path of Allāh, so Allāh will take care of you, you said you live in this world for Islam so go and live your life.” To this day, I will never forget these words.
I moved to a different state and took a job with a famous Islamic organization. QaddarAllāhu maa shaa afa‘al I had a big car accident which limited my mobility for more than six months. I showed up to work as much as I could. But guess what happened? I eventually had to quit because I simply could not take hearing the things I was hearing around me and even behind my back. You would expect RELIGIOUS Muslims to be more understanding. Staff members would tell my wife (not knowing whose wife she was) “this new brother that Sheikh fulaan got, he is so lazy, doesn’t show up every day, doesn’t deal with the youth properly, he’s probably just getting the free money that he’s getting.” I just couldn’t go back because of the way staff members were looking at me and talking about me behind my back and criticizing me without knowing the full truth. It was not going to work out and so I had to quit on them.
There have been times where I was invited to deliver khutbahs or do weekend programs in other cities but I refused to accept the invitation because I could not even afford the gas money. I have been prevented from doing what I love to do for the sake of Allāh due to malicious games and beliefs that shuyookh and du’aat should not be paid. Where is the logic in that? In between I developed diabetes, liver problems, arthritis and few other things. No health insurance, no medication. I even had to sit helplessly at home while my wife suffered through a life threatening illness without proper medication because I could not afford it.
I summarized a lot of details in between because many people do not know the reality and the suffering a sincere Da’ee/Sheikh/Imaam/Taalibul ‘ilm go through. I’ve been physically tortured for wanting to seek knowledge, nearly imprisoned and cut off from any family wealth for being a Da’ee, mistreated by terrible masjid administrations, wrongfully accused by the so-called religious community, insulted even by my friends — but I do not regret this life even for one second. I will never ever be able repay what Allāh has blessed me with. I do not mean repay Allāh, I mean repay society for what Allāh blessed me with. Giving me access to Shuyookh who taught me to be this way and what it truly means to follow the Salaf. No matter how much effort I put in, I will never be able to do justice in spreading Islam.
So no, I’m not in it for the money… but it is my right just like everyone else who does work to be fairly compensated. No, I will never dilute the Sunnah for a better life and to be accepted by the society. Alhamdulillah, all my physical problems are gone except for diabetes and arthritis and I know my financial difficulties will be gone very soon, too. WAllāh my dear brothers & sisters, the greatest gift you can get from this world is a spouse who truly understands the Sunnah and a mother who will constantly make du‘aa for you and encourage you never to stop working for Allāh’s sake. Mistreatment from people will not make me give up doing da‘wa. The only sorrow I have in my life is that I was never able to convince my own father to come to just one dars that I gave and the fact that I have cousins who do not even know how many raka‘aat to pray in which waqt. After marriage, Allāh gave me in-laws that are equally ignorant about the religion as my own family and added to the “headache caused by family!” I always make sure that none of my relatives nor my wife’s relatives find out about my intricate financial difficulties. I firmly believe that knowing how difficult the lives of du’aat can be is not good for the hearts of those who are not serious about their deen. Shaytaan will make them think “see this is what religious people go through, you’re doing great the way you are.” Allāh created man weak and most of us cannot handle too many shortages in life. It’s upto the Shuyookh and du’aat to protect the weakness of people from causing them to go further away from the Deen. Learning the religion and doing something for this Ummah, no matter how small it may be, and having a wife who is not confused about the Sunnah…no bad situation can outweigh these good things. Alhamdulillah, I am able to eat and sleep at night without hearing bombs explode unlike the people of Somalia or Palestine. I’m not worried about anything except about whether my deeds will be accepted by Allāh or not.
I ask Allāh to make what I wrote a reminder to myself first and foremost about my purpose in life and to be of benefit to others.
Assalamualaikum wa Rahmaatullahi wa Baraaktuhu
Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure
How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?
If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.
My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.
On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.
I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.
When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand. Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?
I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.
That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.
I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:
Host an open house
Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.
Expand your circle
Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.
You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.
Outsource Eid Fun
If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.
It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend. If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.
The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.
Get out of your comfort zone
If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.
Try, try, try again…
Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.
While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.
Broken Light: The Opacity of Muslim Led Institutions
Habib Abd al-Qadir al-Saqqaf (may Allah have mercy on him and benefit us by him) explains how we are affected by the spiritual state of those around us.
Every person has rays which emanate from their soul. You receive these rays when you come close to them or sit in their presence. Each person’s rays differ in strength according to the state of their soul. This explains how you become affected by sitting in the presence of great people. They are people who follow the way of the Prophets in their religious and worldly affairs. When they speak, they counsel people. Their actions guide people. When they are silent they are like signposts which guide people along the path, or like lighthouses whose rays guide ships. Many of them speak very little, but when you see them or visit them you are affected by them. You leave their gatherings having been enveloped in their tranquillity. Their silence has more effect than the eloquent speech of others. This is because the rays of their souls enter you.
The Organizational Light
As a Muslim organizational psychologist, I know that organizations and institutions are a collective of these souls too. Like a glass container, they are filled colored by whatever is within them. So often Muslim organizations have presumed clarity in their organizational light and looked on with wonder as children, families, and the community wandered. The lighthouse keepers standing in front of the beacon wondering, “Where have the ships gone?”have
Our Muslim led institutions will reflect our state, actions, and decisions. I do believe that most of our institutional origins are rooted in goodness, but those moments remain small and fade. Our challenge as a community is to have this light of origin be fixed so that it can pulsate and extend itself beyond itself.
Reference is not being made regarding any specific type of institution and this is not a pointed critique, but rather a theory on perhaps why the effect our variety of institutional work wanes and dissipates. Any type of organization or institution — whether for profit or nonprofit, whether capital focused or socially conscious — that is occupied by the heart of a Muslim(s), must reflect light.
Our organizational light is known by an ego-less assessment of intentions, actions, and results. We must move our ‘self’ or ‘selves’ out of the way and then measure our lumens. If the light increases when we move out of the way, then it is possible that we — our ego, personality, objectives, intentions, degree of sacrifice, level of commitment, and possibly even our sincerity — may be the obstructions to our organizational lights.
The Personal Imperative
What will become of our institutions and their role for posterity if we neglect to evaluate where we stand in relation to the noble courses they mean to take? We may currently be seeing the beginning what this may look and feel like.
When was the last time you walked into a Muslim led institution and felt a living space that drew you in because of the custodians, leadership, individuals, and community that made up its parts? It was probably the last time you and I looked deeply inward at our lives — our intellect, our relationships, our purpose, our spiritual state, our work, our decisions, and our intentions. If we cleanse our hearts so infrequently the dust which settles can become thick making them opaque. And perhaps this individual and collective state is what limits the reach and impact of our communal work thus, resulting in the opacity of Muslim led institutions. Note: Lighthouse keepers clean the lens of the beacon every day.
We must consistently assess the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual loci of our individual and organizational states. They are not fixed givens. Rather, they are capricious states that necessitate vigilance and wara’. Being aware of this will help in our organizational design and work.
The Collective Affect
When we are prepared to evaluate the efficacy of Muslim led institutions with the inclusion of some form of spiritual assessment, we will give ourselves a better opportunity to determine where, how, and why we may be missing the mark. The inefficiencies and inattentiveness we have on an individual level can permeate our relationships, our work, and our organizations. As organizational leaders, we must critically assess the amount of light our work emanates to illuminate the lives of the people we serve.
These inward evaluations should be in the form of active and ongoing discussions we have internally with our teams and colleagues, and ourselves. If done with prudence and sincerity it will not only strengthen our organizations but our teams and us God-willing. This collective effort can lead to a collective effect for those we serve that inspires and guides. We — and our institutions — can then return to the Prophetic example of being beacons of light that help ourselves and others arrive to a place of sanctuary.
And Allah always knows best.
Mindful or Mind-full? Going From AutoPilot to Aware
“Remember that God knows what is in your souls, so be mindful of Him.”
[Sūrat al-Baqarah 2:235]
Mindful or Mind-full?
Ever felt frustrated when you were trying to talk to your spouse, your children, your students, or your youth group and they would just not pay attention? This is a prime example of being on autopilot and getting carried away without actually being aware of what is most important in the present moment.
A recent Harvard study shows that our minds are not present in the moment and wander about 47% of the time1. In a world of technology and continuous sensory overload, the lines between work and home, friends and family, necessity vs. purpose, world-centric vs. Allah-centric have become blurred. We are either living in the past or ruminating about the future, and in the process, we are forgetting to live, enjoy, cherish, and make the most of our present moments.
For parents, teachers, youth leaders, and anyone in the beautiful role of guiding, teaching, coaching, or mentoring others, we can make a huge difference by modeling Mindfulness ourselves. But where do we start? The answer is to go from autopilot to becoming aware.
Autopilot to Aware
Being on autopilot is when you are distracted in the present moment, where your mind is wandering into the past or the future, and you are less aware of yourself, surroundings, or others. Autopilot can actually be pretty helpful for your regular habits. Waking up, brushing your teeth, getting ready for your day, going to school or work – many of the things we do habitually every day can be done more seamlessly without having to think, and that is a good thing. But there are times when you have to learn to turn off your autopilot to become aware. But how?
Here is a Mindfulness tool that can be done in just a minute or two for you to become more aware.
Step 1: Breath as a Tool. Say Bismillah. Focus on your breath. See where you experience the breath – the breathing in and breathing out of your body. Is your breath stemming from your nostrils, your chest, or your stomach? Just bring your attention to your breath and relax and stay with it there for a few moments.
Step 2: Body as a Tool. Relax your body. We carry so many emotions in our bodies2. Our stress from the past or anticipation for the future sometimes finds its way into our necks, other times in our chest muscles or our backs. Pay attention to what emotions and sensations do you feel, and try to relax all parts of your body.
Step 3: Intention as a Tool. As you have centered your thoughts to the present moment through your breath and your body, ask yourself: “What is most important now? In this present moment?”
Just simply being aware makes us more mindful parents, teachers, youth and professionals – being aware makes us more Mindful of Allah SWT. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of your mind and body and bring your attention to the present moment.
Real Life in the Present Moment
You are an on-the-go parent: It has been a long day and you have to pick up the kids from school, but work is still pending. You’re picking up the kids from school, feeding them, and then shuffling everyone to their afterschool activities, be it Qur’an, softball, soccer, swimming, or the million other things that kids seem to have these days. You squeeze pending work in between drop-offs and pick-ups, and you function by living from one task to the next.
The Autopilot Impact: You’re getting a lot done, but are so engrossed in quickly moving your children along from one thing to another that you are unable to really cherish your time together.
The Mindfulness Suggestion: You can try to go from autopilot to awareness by focusing on your breath, paying attention to your emotions, and relaxing your body. As you do so, ask yourself: “What is most important now?” Make the intention to slow down, listen to the children more mindfully, and cherish and enjoy your time together.
You are a busy teacher: Last night you had to take all the grading home and spent two hours poring over students’ work. This morning, you woke up early to pick up some classroom supplies after dropping off your own kids to school. You’ve already had two cups of coffee and are trying to think through everything you have to do today. You like the idea of Mindfulness, living life in the present moment, and enjoying every day to its fullest, but your mind is not free to even enjoy the beautiful morning sunrise as you drive to school.
The Autopilot Impact: You want to listen and pay attention to every child’s needs, and enjoy the rewards of their growth, but you can’t. What’s more, you judge yourself for just trying to get through your activities for the day. You wish you could connect with your students better.
The Mindfulness Suggestion: Whenever you are stressed with an unpleasant parent or student interaction, think about breathing, relaxing your body, and asking what you need to focus on now. Try to do one thing at a time, and relax into what you’re doing.
You are an overstretched youth director: You are a role model. You have this major weekend event you are planning with the youth. Your budget is still pending from the board, you have to call all these people, have to get the graphics and remind everyone about the event, you have to visit all these masjids and MSAs to announce and remind people about the weekend.
This weekend’s theme is Living a Life of Purpose and you are super passionate about it. However, the whole week you have had a hard time remembering to even pray one Salah with focus. Instead, your mind has been preoccupied with all the endless planning for this weekend. You love what you do but you wonder how to also be mindful in your everyday worship while you are always prepping and planning engaging activities for the youth.
The Autopilot Impact: You enjoy shaping the youth but you are losing steam. You are always planning the next program and unable to focus on your own personal and spiritual development. It is difficult for you to pray even one salah without thinking about all the events and activities planned for that week.
The Mindfulness Suggestion: Get serious about taking some time for yourself. Know that becoming more mindful about your own prayers and self-development will also make you a better role model. Take a minute or two before every Salah to practice the simple, 3-Step Mindfulness Tool. You say Bismillah and breathe, focus your mind, and then relax your body. Empty your mind from everything else – what has past and what’s to come – and ask “What’s most important now?” to develop better focus in your Salah.
In Conclusion: Practice Simple but Solid Steps towards becoming more Mindful Muslims
Mindfulness is to open a window to let the Divine light in.
[Imam Al Ghazali]
Mindfulness gives us the ability to be aware. We can use Mindfulness tools to remember Allah , refocus, renew our intentions, and engage with the present moment in a more effective and enjoyable way. Mindfulness also invites awareness of our potential negligence in being our best selves with both Allah and His creation. To put it simply, being more aware of our selves can help us be better versions of our selves.
Mindfulness is both an art and a science, with brain and behavioral science research validating the importance of Mindfulness in improving our health, managing our stress, navigating our emotions, and positively impacting our lives3. In today’s modern and distracted world, let us treasure every tool that helps us center our attention on what matters the most.
- Bradt, Steve (2010). Wandering mind not a happy mind. Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/wandering-mind-not-a-happy-mind/
- Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, Jari K. Hietanen (2013). Bodily maps of emotions. National Academy of Sciences. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/26/1321664111
- “What are the benefits of mindfulness,” American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx
To learn more about how to become mindful take the Define Course on Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence.
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