Category Archives: Personal Development
By Taha Ghayyur
Those who don’t know him and haven’t studied his life, often think of Prophet Muhammad’s teachings to be full of negative or harsh messages. Many seem to be fixated on his sayings about the Day of Judgement and Hellfire, while conveniently ignoring his vocal messages of glad tidings and productive work.
After all, the mission of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was described by God as follows, “O Prophet, indeed We have sent you as a witness (Shahid) and a bringer of good tidings (Basheer) and a warner (Nazeer). And one who invites to Allah (Daee) , by His permission, and an illuminating lamp (Sirajan Munira)” [Al-Ahzab 33:45-46].
Prophet Muhammad was a beacon of hope for those around him. His ever-beaming smile would exude optimism. His words, whether of warning or of good news, inspired positive action.
Here is a selection of some powerful sayings of the Prophet to help us stay positive and productive in all circumstances.
1. Be a Bearer of Good News
“Give glad tidings, and do not scare people away. Make things easy, and do not make things difficult” (Abu Dawud).
2. Optimism is an Act of Worship
“Hoping for good is also an act of worship of Allah” (Tirmidhi and Hakim).
“There is no infection and there are no bad omens, but I like optimism… [Optimism is] a good word.”
3. Be Positive & Certain About Your Dua (Supplication)
“Supplicate Allah Almighty and be certain that He will answer your prayer” (Tirmidhi).
4. Strong Believer Doesn’t Make Excuses
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although there is good in each. Desire that which will bring you benefit, and seek help from Allah and do not give way to incapacity. If something happens to you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such-and-such.’ Rather say, ‘The decree of Allah. He does what He will.’ Otherwise you will open yourself up to the action of Shaitan” (Muslim).
5. Do Good Regardless of Others’ Treatment
“Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well and that if they do wrong you will do wrong. But (instead) accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong if they do evil” (Tirmidhi).
6. Be Patient & Positive in Difficult Times
“Whoever abstains from asking others, Allah will make him contented, and whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, Allah will make him self-sufficient. And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience” (Bukhari).
7. Think Positive about God
“Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed’” (Hadith Qudsi).
8. Istighfar Makes a Way Out
“Whoever does a lot of Istighfar (asking for forgiveness), Allah will provide him a way out of each concern he has, and will solve all his troubles, and will provide him with livelihood from sources that were not known to him” (Ahmad).
9. Affair of a Believer is always Positive
“Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him. If he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him” (Muslim).
10. Hope Prevails Over Fear at the Time of Death
Once our Prophet, peace be upon him, went to a young man who was on his death bed and asked him ‘How do you feel?’ The young man said, ‘I have much hope from Allah but I also fear for my sins’. The Prophet said, ‘The believer who has these two ideas simultaneously at such time, Allah fulfills his hopes and grants him security from fear’ (Tirmidhi).
11. Be Positive & Productive till Your Last Breath
“If the Day of Resurrection were established upon one of you, while he has in his hand a sapling (small plant), then let him plant it.” (Ahmad).
Got any Hadiths of the Prophet that inspire positive thinking? Feel free to share them along with reference in the comments below!
By Taha Ghayyur
Whether you consider yourself a positive, easy-going person or a demanding, hard to please person, these tips can help you become a more grateful, caring, and content individual.
There is much more to gratitude and Shukr (thankfulness) in Islam than a mere “Thank You” that our ears have become so used to ignoring. Discover how you can be more thankful to Allah and His creation.
- Stop Complaining and be positive! This is the first step towards being thankful to Allah and people around you. We have become a community of complainers and whiners, which has lead to a collective psychology of negativity and unproductively.Stop complaining about the economy, weather, politicians, traffic, or ‘the system’. Refrain from blaming your Masjid, Imams, parents, spouse, in-laws, children, or boss. If you think with an open mind, you may find more positives in your circumstances and the people around you than negatives.
- Say “Al-hamdulillah” (All thanks and praise belongs to Allah) often: A constant utterance of this phrase reminds you of the source of all blessings and happiness in this life. This practice of attributing all good actions to Allah keeps you humble and content and has a positive affect on your relations with people.Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has instructed us to say “Al-hamdulillah” on daily basis: “Allah is pleased with His servant if, when he eats something he thanks Allah for it, and when he drinks something he thanks Allah for it” (Muslim).
- Respect others’ time and schedule: Part of ungratefulness is wastage of time. As a scholar once said, “Time is not just money. It is more expensive than gold, diamonds and pearls. Time is life itself!”Arriving late at a meeting or a class, cancelling appointments last minute, or starting off a program late, are not only a big waste of time and disrespectful to others, but also a lack of appreciation of others’ time on your part.
- Seize the opportunity while you can. Procrastination in offering your prayers, delaying a donation to a humanitarian cause, or filling your leisure time with unproductive or unlawful activities is ingratitude to Allah for the limited time and opportunity He has given you to do good and to achieve Paradise.Prophet Muhammad warned us, “Good health and spare time are two of the blessings of Allah with respect to which many people are deceived.” (Bukhari)Even if you live till tomorrow, what guarantee do you have that there won’t be any obstacles in carrying out a good action. The Prophet used to call on Muslims to take the initiative to do good deeds before any problems arise.
- Spend 15 minutes daily to think about things that you should be thankful for: Recall people in your life, whom you may have taken for granted like your parents, spouse, children, co-worker, or teacher, who were caring and loving.List some of Allah’s gifts that are not tangible or were not obvious to you before. Sulayman, a follower of the Prophet’s Companions, once said: “Remembering His blessings makes one love Allah.”This simple mental exercise not only makes you a grateful person, but also a healthy one. According to a 2001 research bythe Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (IRUL), based in Ohio, just 15 minutes a day focusing on the things you are grateful for will significantly increase your body’s natural antibodies, will make you less vulnerable to clinical depression, and will keep your blood pressure and heart rate stable.
- Be patient and grateful when disasters strike: The depth and strength of your gratitude is tested in difficult times. Allah wants to see how thankful you truly are when you loose your job or a loved one, or when you feel ill and or get injured.It helps to know that in times of calamity and distress, there will be some good for you, provided you respond appropriately. The Prophet said, “How wonderful is the case of a Believer! There is good for him in whatever happens to him -and none, apart from him, enjoys this blessing.” (Muslim)Sufyan al-Thawri, a famous early scholar of Islam, said, “He does not understand religion properly who does not count affliction as a blessing and ease as a trial.”
- Donate your time, talent, money, and advice to social work and non-profit efforts: In our profit-driven culture, it is burdensome to squeeze out time and wealth for others. Your selfless service and generosity towards people in need and non-profit organizations is a sure way of showing gratitude to Allah and to your community.The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said, “People are dependants of Allah; the closest to Him are those who are most useful to His dependants” (Muslim).”As the blessings from Allah to a servant increase, so will the people’s needs of that blessed servant’s services. If the servant ignores their needs, it will cause those blessings to be removed” (lbn Hibban).
- Visit the sick, the terminally ill, and the disabled: Frequenting patients and families of the deceased, not only brings comfort to them and brings multiple rewards from Allah to you, it also helps you appreciate your own good health and opportunities you have in life to serve others.
- Share the message of Islam: If you appreciate the guidance of Islam as your most precious treasure, don’t hesitate to share it with others. If Islam has changed your life for the better, what’s holding you back from inviting your friends, family, neighbours, and co-workers to explore this message of hope and positive transformation?
- Recite and memorize the Duas of Prophet Muhammad: The most natural and beautiful way to thank Allah is the words of the Prophet himself.The Prophet told Muadh, “By Allah, I love you, so do not forget to say at the end of every prayer, ‘O Allah, help me to remember You and to give thanks to You and to worship You well’” (Ahmad and At-Tirmidhî).
- Fall in Prostration (Sajda) when you receive a blessing from Allah:Prophet Muhammad used to prostrate (Sajda) to Allah whenever he received something pleasant or was told good news to thank Allah for the grace he had received.
- Don’t consider any blessing too small: Treat all gifts of Allah with equal respect and gratitude, lest you lose it one day for good. Aishah said that the Prophet entered upon her one day and saw a small piece of bread on the floor, so he picked it up and wiped it, then told her: “O Aishah, treat the blessings of Allah with respect, for when it departs from a household it may never come back to them” (Abud Dunya).
- Use and display Allah’s blessings moderately. Part of being grateful to Allah is to look presentable and clean, and spend money on yourself with moderation.Abul-Akhwas narrated that his father said: “I came to the Messenger of Allah looking dishevelled and scruffy. He asked me, ‘Do you have any possessions?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He asked me what sort, and I told him, ‘I have all sorts. Allah has given me camels, horses, slaves and sheep.’ The Prophet said: ‘If Allah has given you all of that, then let Him see His blessing on you.’”
- Don’t be too picky and accommodate others! Some people express their discomfort (perhaps unintentionally) with anything that they are not used to. They may be too picky about their taste of food, clothing and furniture; they may get irritated easily in new environments; they may like meeting only a certain type of people; they may not like working with others.This insensitivity to other people’s preferences and inability to accommodate others is a sign of selfishness, arrogance, and ungratefulness. Be content in every situation and you will become grateful.
- Admire those below you and keep your expectations low: A lot of times the reason for our ungrateful behaviour is that we are constantly comparing our material success with the wealthier, healthier, and more accomplished. In our race to ‘keep-up-with-the-Ahmad-family’ next door, we forget so many obvious blessings that others may not enjoy and we should be thankful for.The Prophet admonished us, “Look at those people who have less than you and never look at those who have more grants than you, this will ensure that you will not depreciate Allah’s favours” (Muslim).
- Thank people for littlest things: People like to be appreciated for little favours they do for us, which often get ignored in our busy routines. When was the last time you thanked your little son for taking care of simple chore for you? Has your husband heard a compliment from you lately?Take the time to thank them for their thoughtfulness. As the Prophet stated, “The one who does not give thanks for a small blessing will not give thanks for a great blessing, and the one who does not give thanks to people will not give thanks to Allah” (Abud Dunya).
- Compliments & recognition and motivate team members: Whether you are an employer or a manager at work, or lead a volunteer based project, or simply a team player, a personal recognition significantly boosts the employee or volunteer morale.As Stephen Robbins in his book “The Truth about Managing People” explains, several organizational behaviour studies have indicated employees and volunteers rate personal thanks and recognition from a superior for a job well-done as the most motivating of a variety of incentives; yet not many team leaders use this simple, cost-effective technique that works like magic! What kinds of personal recognition and group success incentives does your organization have in place?
- When you thank someone, make sure you mean it: When you say “Jazakallahu Khayran” (May Allah reward you the best) to your wife, does it come from your heart? Or is it received as another cold cliché?Be a little creative when you really want to express your gratitude to someone. Say it with a personal thank you card. Show it with flowers. Accompany it with a genuine smile. Charge it with emotions. Enhance it with a meal or a meaningful gift.
By Taha Ghayyur
- First things first: Figure out the real priorities in your life. What’s worth spending an hour on? What comes first? What is a must-do and what is good-to-do?
- Allocate time consistently to activities that matter. Unless you plan for and schedule time for community work, or studies, or attending to parents, spouse, or children, on daily basis, it’s not considered important enough to you; chances are you will eventually start neglecting these high priority actions.
- Schedule your day around five daily prayers. No compromises. This will not only develop your discipline, but also your will-power to live a purposeful life.
- Plan for significant events in your life yearly. Whether it’s getting married, or applying for university, or going to Hajj, or paying Zakat, or attending a conference, or organizing a community event, plan for it so other trivial matters do not distract you from your goal.
- Be an early riser. Schedule your important tasks, specially that require mental exercise, earlier in the day, and see the Baraka (blessings) from Allah do the magic!
- Honour other’s time. Aim to make it to the meetings, classes, events 10 minutes before the start time. If you are running late, inform the other parties. Honouring other’s time is part of fulfilling your promise. Breaking a promise not only causes inconvenience to others, but also makes you loose respect in their sight.
- Just do it! Don’t waste any opportunity to do good. Don’t wait to ‘get old’ to fix your life. If you are not willing to live a purpose-driven, productive life now, then how do you expect Allah to give you a chance in future?
- Be optimistic and futuristic. Do not let failures and disappointments in life distract you from your lofty goals. Look beyond the temporal realities and plan for the future that matters. Otherwise, you may remain a loser now, as well as in the future.
- Think of a positive legacy you would like to leave, regardless of the time you have. Make your intention today to make a positive difference in your life and the lives of others. If you die tomorrow, your intention will count as your plan for a mission-driven life. But it won’t happen if you don’t act today to develop a firm intention and plan.
Taha Ghayyur is a writer, a consultant, and a community organizer. He works as a freelance writer with WordMatters.ca and as the Development Manager with Sound Vision, a pioneer in Islamic multimedia in North America. He writes and speaks extensively on issues related to Muslim youth engagement, education, leadership, communication, self-development and community development.