The Month of Sha’ban: Prelude to Ramadan – Imam Zaid Shakir

Imam Zaid Shakir

* Courtesy of Imam Zaid’s Facebook page

Sha’ban is a month of good that introduces the great month of Ramadan. The Prophet, peace upon him, used to fast voluntarily during this month more so than in any other month. One of the motivations for that, as we will mention below, is that Sha’ban is the month during which the deeds performed by the servant ascend to God.

Usama b. Zayd relates: “The Prophet, peace and mercy of God upon him, used to fast so many days in succession that we said, ‘He will never break his fast.’ At other times he would go without fasting for so long until we said, ‘He will never again fast;’ except for two days, which he would fast even if they occurred during the times he was not fasting consecutive days.

Furthermore, he would not fast in any month as many days as he fasted during Sha’ban. I said: ‘O Messenger of God! Sometimes you fast so much it is as if you will never break your fast, at other times you leave fasting for such a long stint it is as if you will never again fast [voluntarily]; except for two days that you always fast.’ He asked: ‘Which two days are those?’ I replied: ‘Monday and Thursday.’ The Prophet, peace upon him, said: ‘Those are two days in which the deeds are presented to the Lord of the Worlds. I love that my deeds are presented while I am fasting.’ I said: ‘I do not see you fasting in any month like you fast during Sha’ban.’ The Prophet, peace and mercy of God upon him, said: “That is a month occurring between Rajab and Ramadan that many people neglect. It is a month in which the deeds ascend to the Lord of the Worlds, be He Mighty and Majestic, and I love for my deeds to ascend while I am fasting.” Related by Imam Ahmad and Imam Al-Nasa’i.

–  Imam Zaid Shakir

 

Below is Imam Zaid’s recent visit to SeekersGuidance, click below to watch.


About Imam Zaid Shakir

Imam Zaid Shakir is a co-founder, and senior Faculty Member of Zaytuna College located in Berkeley, CA. He is amongst the most respected and influential Islamic scholars in the West. As an American Muslim who came of age during the civil rights struggles, he has brought both sensitivity about race and poverty issues and scholarly discipline to his faith-based work.

Born in Berkeley, California, he accepted Islam in 1977 while serving in the United States Air Force. He obtained a BA with honors in International Relations at American University in Washington D.C. and later earned his MA in Political Science at Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, he led a successful campaign for divestment from South Africa, and co-founded New Brunswick Islamic Center formerly Masjid al-Huda.

After a year of studying Arabic in Cairo, Egypt, he settled in New Haven, Connecticut and continued his community activism, co-founding Masjid Al-Islam, the Tri-State Muslim Education Initiative, and the Connecticut Muslim Coordinating Committee. As Imam of Masjid Al-Islam from 1988 to 1994 he spear-headed a community renewal and grassroots anti-drug effort, and also taught political science and Arabic at Southern Connecticut State University. He served as an interfaith council Chaplain at Yale University and developed the Chaplaincy Sensitivity Training for physicians at Yale New Haven Hospital. He then left for Syria to pursue his studies in the traditional Islamic sciences.

For seven years in Syria, and briefly in Morocco, he immersed himself in an intense study of Arabic, Islamic law, Quranic studies, and spirituality with some of the top Muslim scholars of our age. In 2001, he graduated from Syria’s prestigious Abu Noor University with a BA in Islamic Sciences and returned to Connecticut, serving again as the Imam of Masjid al-Islam, and writing and speaking frequently on a host of issues. That same year, his translation from Arabic into English of The Heirs of the Prophets was published by Starlatch Press.

In 2003, he moved to Hayward, California to serve as a scholar-in-residence and lecturer at Zaytuna Institute, where he taught courses on Arabic, Islamic law, history, and Islamic spirituality. In 2004, he initiated a pilot seminary program at Zaytuna Institute, which was useful in Zaytuna College’s refinement of its Islamic Studies curriculum and its educational philosophy. For four years, students in the pilot program were engaged in the study of contemporary and classical texts. In 2005, Zaytuna Institute published, Scattered Pictures: Reflections of An American Muslim„ an anthology of diverse essays penned by Zaid Shakir. He co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque, Oakland, CA. in 2007. He authored an award-winning text, Treatise for the Seekers of Guidance, a translation and commentary on Imam Harith al-Muhasibi’s work, Risala al-Mustarshideen in 2008. He is co-founder and chairman of United For Change since 2009. The mission of United For Change is, through modern discourse, to create awareness of the broadest and most consuming topics within the Muslim community. The aim is to leverage the diversity through cooperation and goodwill and address the obstacles that have proven to be divisive.  His most recent work is Where I’m Coming From: The Year In Review, a new collection of his essays from 2010. Imam Zaid has also authored numerous articles and research papers on a wide range of topics.

He is a frequent speaker at local and national Muslim events and has emerged as one of the nation’s top Islamic scholars and a voice of conscience for American Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Imam Zaid has served as an advisor to many organizations, and influential leaders. He is ranked as “one of America’s most influential Scholars” in the West; by The 500 Most Influential Muslims, edited by John Esposito and Ibrahim Kalin, (2009). Imam Zaid is a signatory along with religious and spiritual Leaders from around the world who presented the UN Secretary General with a declaration in support of the Paris Climate Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, marking the largest number of nations ever signing an international agreement. Inspired to work with religious groups on sustainable living and climate change in 2017, Imam Zaid is a Green Faith partner in action for the earth. The mission is to inspire, educate, organize, and mobilize people of diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds globally for environmental action. In 2018, CNN listed him among 25 influential American Muslims.

While many have cited Imam Zaid as example of Islamic moderation, his critics have questioned his moderate credentials by citing his expressed hope for the conversion of America to Islam and adoption of Islamic law in America. Dr. Ingrid Mattson stated that Imam Zaid is solidly grounded in the Islamic legal, ethical and intellectual tradition, which all Muslims share, as well as his personal understanding of the current political context.


 

EXCLUSIVE WEBINAR: Your Best Ramadan Ever – Tushar Imdad

Ramadan 2020 promises to be unprecedented and unlike any Ramadan in our lifetime due to the Coronavirus restrictions.

Unprecedented circumstances call for unprecedented action.

When times change, successful people adapt accordingly.

There’s no reason why Ramadan 2020 shouldn’t be your best Ramadan ever.

Especially if you apply productivity science and Islamic Time Management principles.

Sign up to the upcoming, exclusive FREE webinar to find out how:

https://yourbestramadan.tusharimdad.com/1-signup

And take a massive step towards making this Ramadan your best ever, inshaAllah!

Tushar Imdad

Biography:

Tushar Imdad (aka Tushar Mohammed Imdad-ul-Haque Bhuiya) is an Islamic Time Management Coach and Educational Entrepreneur. Professionally trained as a high school English teacher, Tushar has taught or managed prominent Islamic schools in Leicester, UK, between 2007-2016. With a flair for managing multiple roles, Tushar is also a GCSE English examiner, a teacher trainer for AMS UK; professional proofreader; former lead instructor at Madrasa Manara; and is currently the Director of Shaykhspeare’s Online English Academy and High Impact Tutors.  

 A long-term student of knowledge, Tushar has studied a range of Islamic sciences at the feet of scholars such as Shaykh Nuh Keller, Umm Sahl, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Maulana Ilyas Patel and Ustadh Tabraze Azam. In 2015 he completed Level 5 of the Classical Arabic Program from the prestigious Qasid Institute, Amman.   

Throughout his varied career, Tushar has always been driven by a passion for time management. Starting in 2009, he has delivered a mixture of workshops, webinars, web-coaching and client visits, attracting delegates as varied as CEOs, corporate professionals, housewives, dentists and scholars from places spanning the UK, US and Middle East. Tushar has published articles and delivered training for ProductiveMuslim.com, SeekersGuidance.org and Qibla.com (now Kiflayn). In recent years he has immersed himself in  productivity systems, learning from world-class experts such as Demir Bentley, the authors of The One Thing, Leo Babuta and James Clear. His recent courses have included  ‘Principles of Islamic Time Management’, ‘Time Tactics 101’ and ‘The Breakthrough Habit’.


Poem: Wa La Nablu Wanna Kum – Novid Shaid

In appreciation of Sura Baqarah (chapter 2), Verse 155.

 

Wa La Nablu Wanna Kum

I’d heard this verse

Many times before

But I fell in the world’s momentum

And now I’m drawn,

Like a looping moth

To the light of

Wa La Nablu Wanna Kum

 

I’d heard this verse

So deep and terse

But I swayed in a sea of fevers

But now I am swept

Like a floating wreck

To the shores of

Wa la Nablu Wanna Kum

 

I’d heard this verse

With a heart immersed

In the dread of the world’s hysteria

But now the only thing to panic-buy

Is the key for

Wa la Nablu Wanna Kum

 

I’d heard this verse

In the Friday prayers

While my mind viewed conspiracy theories

But now the fake news

Needs to be rebuked

With the truth of

Wa la Nablu Wanna Kum

 

I’d heard this verse

In the universe

Of talks and the deen intensives

But now all the notes

And inspiring quotes

Need to act on

Wa la Nablu Wanna Kum

 

I’d heard this verse

When things were worse

For the poor folk mired in outbreaks

But now the vaccine

For my uncertainties

Is the pledge of

Wa la Nablu Wanna Kum

 

Novid Shaid, March 2020

Spiritual Prescription for Shaban – Habib Umar

* Courtesy of Muwasala

Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him) recommends reading the following 40,000 times in the the month of Sha`ban:

 

يَا حَيُّ يَا قَيُّومُ لا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنْ الْظَّالِمِين

Ya Hayyu ya Qayyum la ilaha illa anta subhanaka inni kuntu min az-zalimin

‘O Living, O Self-Subsistent! There is no deity other than You. Transcendent are You, truly I am one of the wrongdoers.’

Preparing and Dealing with COVID-19 – SeekersGuidance Reader

coronavirus COVID 19

The current Covid-19 pandemic has caused anxiety, fear and chaos across the globe. Many countries have declared state of emergencies with national lock downs in order to contain the transmission of the virus. The lives of millions of people have have come to a standstill. Some people are confused of how to go about their daily activities whilst others are going through existential crises. At this critical time it is important that Muslims have access to sound knowledge which will be able to prepare them for the practical, theological and religious complexities they many face due to the physical, psychological and social effects of Covid-19. Below you will find links to an array of videos, podcasts and articles which will help prepare you to deal and navigate this confusing and uncertain time of Covid-19.

Videos:

Fortifying Faith in an Age of Faithlessness – Dr. Ali Ataie

Why We Suffer: Understanding the Problem of Evil, Tribulations & Suffering – Shaykh Hamza Karamali & Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Tribulations from a Faith Perspective – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Tribulation and Ease – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf:

Understanding Evil: Why Does Allah Allow Suffering – Shaykh Omar Qureshi

Can I Perform Friday Prayer at Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic? – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Guidance on COVID19 (Part 1) – Mufti Taha Karaan

Guidance on COVID19 (Part 2) – Mufti Taha Karaan

Guidance on COVID19 (Part 3) – Mufti Taha Karaan

Guidance on COVID19 (Part 4) – Mufti Taha Karaan

Coronavirus Lessons From Its Butterfly Effect – Shaykh Sadullah Khan

17 Benefits of Tribulation – By Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

 

Podcasts:

Tribulations from a Faith Perspective – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Believers and Tribulations: Faith Entails Being Ambassadors of Mercy with Certitude and Contentment – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Tests and Tribulations Are Blessings: The Divine Promise That We Will Be Tested, Explained – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Dealing with the Coronavirus – Mufti Taha Karaan

 

Articles:

Counsel For Students of Knowledge Regarding COVID19 – Dr. Hisham A. Hellyer

The Shafiʿi School On Friday Prayer and Congregational Prayer During Epidemics

The Believer, Futuwwa, & Times of Crisis – Shaykh Salman Younas

Prophetic Guidance in Times of Tribulations – Habib Umar

Are Diseases Contagious?

Concepts of Health and Disease within an Islamic Framework – by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Protection From Disease – Habib Umar

Poem : COVID19 – By Novid Shaid

Is COVID-19 a Divine Punishment? – Shaykh Ahmed El Azhary

“Is COVID-19 a punishment from Allah?” is definitely a repeated question these days. I know of many Muslims who are asking themselves as they see all the mosques around the world, especially al-Haram al-Makki and al-Masjid al-Nabawi, closed: Is this a sign that Allah is angry at us? Are we being punished from Allah for all of our wrong-doings and short-comings as Muslims? 

Well, the closure of mosques – and also the shutdown of life as we knew it just few months ago – is certainly a “reminder” from Allah that we are after all not in control of things. It is a reminder of all the bounties that we had and never were appreciative or grateful for. Praying in mosques, or I should rather say “The Mosque-life,” was a gigantic blessing that deserved and required from us more care, gratitude, and respect. The closure of mosques is perhaps a reminder that we as Muslims cannot be turning the houses of worship into arenas for egos to battle and for greed to manifest.

And while the closure of mosques is a reminder from Allah of how we should value the houses of worship, staying at home is also a reminder of how we ought to carry our family lives. It is a reminder that our homes require our absolute attention; that our families deserve that we invest more time in them; and that our children need our direct effort in educating and teaching them about both religion and life. 

So, COVID-19 is absolutely a reminder of all of these things and many more, but is it really a “punishment” from Allah? Allah the Most High has told us clearly in the Qur’an that we shall be tested. He said in verse (155) of Surat al-Baqarah: “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits but give good tidings to the patient.” And He said in verse (31) of Surat Muhammad: “And We will surely test you until We make evident those who strive among you and the patient, and We will test your affairs.” So, we were told in the Qur’an that there will be “tests” that shall bring to the surface what is hidden in our hearts and minds. For this reason, amongst others, we can say that such tests are in actuality blessings, because they provide us with inner illumination. They inform us about ourselves and give us opportunity to understand ourselves better. Hence, they help us to improve and develop ourselves spiritually, as Imam Ibn `Ata’ Allah (may Allah be pleased with him) said in his Aphorisms: “States of need are gift-laden carpets.” However, it is our response to these difficulties that defines whether or not they are punishments, because if one responds to such states of need with anger, irritation and annoyance that would imply that they are punishments, because obviously that would mean the person has failed the test. On the other hand, if one responds to such turbulences with patience and resilience that would suggest that these events were sent as means for expiation of sins and salvation from past misdeeds. Better than this, if one responds to these dire circumstances with acceptance, good-will and content, then that would be an indicator that one’s spiritual rank has elevated, and it is a sign of one’s closeness to Allah the Most High. So, in these regards, COVID-19 is one event – one test – that means different things and brings different results for different people. And Allah knows best.

May Allah grant us wisdom and awareness; keep us away from foolishness and pretension; and protect us from both the diseases of the body and the diseases of the heart. 


Biography of Shaykh Ahmed Hussein El Azhary:

Shaykh Ahmed El Azhary is a researcher in Islamic intellectual history and a teacher of Islamic traditional sciences. He’s currently a teacher of Hadith, Usūl, Logic, and Kalam at Rawdatul-Na`īm under the supervision of Habib `Ali al-Jifrī; and at Madyafat Shaykh Ismaīl Sadiq al-`Adawī (RA), a prominent learning center by al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.

Formerly, Shaykh Ahmed worked as a Lead Researcher at Tabah Foundation. He was appointed by Habib `Ali al-Jifrī to architect the philosophical framework of Suaal initiative – an initiative concerned with modeling an Islamic philosophical response to contemporary existential questions, supervised by Shaykh `Ali Jumu`ah, Habib `Umar and Shaykh Usama al-Azhary. Shaykh Ahmed continues to participate in Suaal initiative through essays, public lectures, and workshops.

Shaykh Ahmed studied Anthropology at American University in Cairo and received his training in Leadership Communication from Tulane University and The University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is also a life-long learner. He holds a diversified portfolio of almost 50 certificates in a variety of subjects – extending from Teaching Character and Clinical Psychology of Children and Young People to Complexity Theory, Model Thinking and Conflict Analysis.

Shaykh Ahmed began his journey of studying traditional sciences about 20 years ago. In addition to studying with scholars from al-Azhar, he had the privilege of studying with visiting scholars from Algeria and India in a one-on-one format and was thus given an exceptional opportunity to study and discuss advanced-level texts of different sorts and over a long period of time. Shaykh Ahmed has more than 70 Ijazas from scholars from all over the Muslim world.


 

Prayer of Gabriel – Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Specifically Merciful.

I delivered an online presentation on the evening of Isra and Mi’raj which coincides with the 27th Rajab. I dedicated most of the presentation to events that took place during the Prophet’s nocturnal journey from the Haram of Makkah to Masjid al-Aqsa.

After the presentation, I received many requests for the prayer that Gabriel taught the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace ) when an Ifrit (high-ranking jinn) tried to cast a blaze of fire upon him. In response to these requests, and seeking Allah’s pleasure and protection, I have translated the hadith, which includes the prayer of Gabriel, as it appears in the Muwatta of Imam Malik. However, different versions of the hadith have been transmitted. The version translated below has been transmitted by a successor directly from the Messenger, peace be upon him, (without mentioning the name of a companion), so, on its own, it may be regarded as weak. However, it is important to know that all the different versions of the hadith corroborate this version, and this corroboration raises the status of the hadith to ‘sound’ or ‘hasan’.

The translation is as follows: Yahya bin Said said, “during the nocturnal journey of the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) he saw an Ifrit following him with a blaze of fire. Whenever he looked back, he saw him. Angel Gabriel then said, “Should I not teach you a supplication – if you were to recite it, his flame will go out and he will fall on his mouth?” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied in the affirmative. Gabriel then said:

“In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, I seek refuge in Allah, the Most Generous, and by His Perfect Words, the boundaries of which cannot be exceeded by anyone, whether he be devout or a criminal, from the evil that descends from the heavens, or that which ascends to it, and from the evils that are sown within the earth, and that which comes out of it, and from the trials of the night and the day, and from the visitors of the night except those that come in goodness, O Most Gracious.”

Another version of the hadith reads, “the Prophet, peace be upon him, recited it and the ifrit’s flame died out and he fell on his face.”

The Arabic version of the prayer is:

أَعُوذُ بِوَجْهِ اللهِ الْكَرِيْمِ وَبِكَلِمَاتِ اللهِ التَّامَّاتِ الَّتِي لَا يُجَاوِزُهُنَّ بَرٌّ، وَلَا فَاجِرٌ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا يَنْزِلُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ وَمَا يَعْرُجُ فِيهَا، وَمِنْ شَرِّ مَا ذَرَأَ فِي الْأَرْضِ وشر ما يَخْرُجُ مِنْهَا، وَمِنْ فِتَنِ اللَّيْلِ والنَّهَارِ، وَمِنْ طَوَارِقِ اللَّيْلِ إِلَّا طَارِقًا يَطْرُقُ بِخَيْرٍ يَا رَحْمَانُ

Returning to Our Senses – Shaykh Ahmed El Azhary

It is often mentioned in the Islamic philosophical works, especially those that belong to the Avicennian tradition, that the Intellect (al-`aql), which is an aspect of the Soul, manifests itself at the Brain; and it is often assumed by readers and interpreters that the Intellect’s manifestation is limited to the Brain, especially when it is referred to the Brain as the Intellect’s “place.” However, Imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi – may Allah be pleased with him – in his “Commentary on the Problematic Issues in the Canon of Medicine” contradicts such assumption. He says:

“And know that the Brain has other servants as well. The Five Senses provide the Brain with images of sensibly perceptible forms or qualities (sensory perceptions), and they abstract them to a degree, allowing the Brain faculties to work their way through them and to abstract them even further.”

So, basically, Imam al-Razi is stating here that the role of the Five Senses in cognition is not completely a passive one, since the process of abstraction of sensory perceptions begins at the Five Senses themselves. In other words, abstraction as a process does not wait for sensory perceptions to reach the Brain in order to begin, but rather, it is first applied to sensory perceptions at the Five Senses (touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste) and then it is applied even further at the Brain. Thus, according to Imam al-Razi, abstractions are born at the Senses and they grow at the Brain.

In Avicennian philosophy, the abstractions derived from sensory perceptions are called Primary Intelligibles (al-ma`qulat al-ula). The occurrence of Primary Intelligibles signifies the actualization of the second stage of the Theoretical Intellect named: The Habitual Intellect (al-`aql bil-malakah). Consequently, we can infer that, according to the aforementioned view of Imam al-Razi, the Habitual Intellect begins its actualization at the Senses, and therefore, the Theoretical Intellect – in its second stage – has a form of presence at the Senses, and that can only take place if the previous stage – the first stage – of the Theoretical Intellect, known as: The Potential Intellect (al-`aql al-hayulani), which has the capacity of receiving intelligible forms, is also present at the Senses.

It is thus clear that the Intellect, for Imam al-Razi, is not only connected to the body through its main agent – the Brain, but it is also attached to the entirety of the human body. The manifestation of the Intellect is, therefore, not limited to the Brain; and the physical Senses are not mere receptors and transmitters; and their role is not bound to the reductionist view of modern biomedicine – sending electrical signals, known as the nerve impulses, to the Brain. Rather, the Five Senses are equipped with an abstraction capability. 

Moreover, one can trace Imam al-Razi’s explanation of the Senses to the fact that he moves away from the popular position that the Brain is the physical host of the Intellect and views the Brain as a “condition” for the manifestations of all faculties – intellectual and sensory. He claims in his latest philosophical work, “The Higher Issues of Metaphysics,” based on a lengthy argumentation, that the primary origin (al-mabda’ al-awwal) for the manifestation of the faculties is the Heart, and it is emanated from the Heart to the Brain – “the condition of their manifestation.” Consequently, the intellectual faculties are not confined to the Brain, but rather disseminated to the whole body. The primary origin of such dissemination is the Heart and the condition of such dissemination is the Brain. 

In addition, Imam al-Razi also states in “The Higher Issues of Metaphysics” that, for example, while seeing is utilized by the eyes and imagination is utilized by the Brain, they are both actions of a metaphysical entity – The Soul. The one that sees is the Soul itself, and the one that imagines is also the Soul itself. That being so, abstraction is not conducted “by” the Brain, but rather conducted by the Soul – in this context called: The Intellect – “at” the Brain. Hence, for Imam al-Razi, abstraction can be partly conducted at the Five Senses, since after all, abstraction is conducted by the Intellect, not by the Brain nor by any other body organ. 

Though he makes no reference in his “Commentary on the Problematic Issues in the Canon of Medicine,” but such view by Imam al-Razi provides a deeper understanding of the verse (21) in Surat Fussilat: “And they will say to their skins, “Why have you testified against us?” They will say, “We were made to speak by Allah, who has made everything speak; and He created you the first time, and to Him you are returned.” Thus, according to Imam al-Razi’s view of the Five Senses, we can conclude that the speech of the “skin” on the Judgement Day will not be a completely new utilization of it that had no existence in this life, but rather an actualization of its worldly potentials, because speech as an intellectual capacity is rooted in abstraction – as without abstraction human speech would not have been possible; and abstraction begins, as al-Razi stated, at the Five Senses.

Such deep understanding of the Five Senses, of course, does not conform with a modernistic view of the human body: a biological machine. According to modern neuroscience the Brain is imprisoned in the chamber called: The Skull, and it never experienced the external world and never will. The Brain creates its understanding about the physical nature through the electro – chemical signals it receives from the Five Senses. One might expect that this view would call upon us to engage more with nature, but reality defies expectation. In a modernistic world, people gaze at screens, not the skies; and they open Google to learn about the current weather instead of opening their windows. 

According to Imam al-Razi, we have an Intellect, which belongs to the Soul, not just a Brain, which belongs to the Body; and the Intellect not only experiences the external world through the Senses, but it begins the journey of conceptualization at the Senses – i.e. in the physical world. Thus, we can move beyond the natural world – “the world of objects” – to the metaphysical realm – “the world of meanings” – only after we live the present fully and experience the physical mindfully; and as long as we are incarcerated in a pseudo-physical reality, reaching the metaphysical becomes impossible, and living the actual physical experience becomes outdated, to the point where it becomes unserviceable and more or less incompatible with the new – Virtual Reality Headsets!


Biography of Shaykh Ahmed Hussein El Azhary:

Shaykh Ahmed El Azhary is a researcher in Islamic intellectual history and a teacher of Islamic traditional sciences. He’s currently a teacher of Hadith, Usūl, Logic, and Kalam at Rawdatul-Na`īm under the supervision of Habib `Ali al-Jifrī; and at Madyafat Shaykh Ismaīl Sadiq al-`Adawī (RA), a prominent learning center by al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.

Formerly, Shaykh Ahmed worked as a Lead Researcher at Tabah Foundation. He was appointed by Habib `Ali al-Jifrī to architect the philosophical framework of Suaal initiative – an initiative concerned with modeling an Islamic philosophical response to contemporary existential questions, supervised by Shaykh `Ali Jumu`ah, Habib `Umar and Shaykh Usama al-Azhary. Shaykh Ahmed continues to participate in Suaal initiative through essays, public lectures, and workshops.

Shaykh Ahmed studied Anthropology at American University in Cairo and received his training in Leadership Communication from Tulane University and The University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is also a life-long learner. He holds a diversified portfolio of almost 50 certificates in a variety of subjects – extending from Teaching Character and Clinical Psychology of Children and Young People to Complexity Theory, Model Thinking and Conflict Analysis.

Shaykh Ahmed began his journey of studying traditional sciences about 20 years ago. In addition to studying with scholars from al-Azhar, he had the privilege of studying with visiting scholars from Algeria and India in a one-on-one format and was thus given an exceptional opportunity to study and discuss advanced-level texts of different sorts and over a long period of time. Shaykh Ahmed has more than 70 Ijazas from scholars from all over the Muslim world.


 

Empathy and Behavior Modification – Moulana Muhammad Carr

* Courtesy of Neo Marketing

In this video, Moulana Muhammad Carr shares the importance of developing empathy with those who are facing tremendous challenges during this trying time of Covid-19. As Muslims it is important that we reflect on the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who was always concerned about the welfare of others.

Islamic Time Management During COVID-19 – Sidi Tushar Imdad

With curfew measures and stay-at-home orders in place across the world, most of us find ourselves cooped up at home for much longer than we are used to.

Worse still, trying to work or study with multiple family members competing for space and time is a recipe for distraction!

Politicians liken the fight with Coronavirus to a war – it’s like a battle humanity must win.

Productivity experts like to use the same analogy for time management. You are battling with your life, your week or your day.

Islamically, we have an even better model (because it’s true!). Spiritual masters have described our real battle to be with four: our nafs (selfish ego), our hawa (obsessional tendencies or ‘stubborn, wilful folly’), Shaytan (we all know him!) and the Dunya (defined by Imam al-Ghazali as anything that distracts one from Allah).

Whichever model you look at, the point is the same. If we do not actively battle with the enemies of our time, then we will lose.

Remember what Imam Shafi’i (r.a.) learned from the Sufis:

“Time is like a sword; if you don’t cut it, it will cut you!”
 
What does any military leader do before any battle?

PLAN.

Preparation is EVERYTHING. If there’s just one time management habit you get from all my articles, I hope it is this: plan your weeks and plan your days .

(If you want a deeper dive into the basics of planning, goal setting and other time managements tricks, you could look into my self-study course Time Tactics 101: https://tusharimdad.thinkific.com/courses/time-tactics-101. Before you buy, email me for a massive discount)

If you don’t plan, this is what happens:

You’re right in the middle of an essential task and your son comes in the room to ask for something.

You’re trying to concentrate but the sound from the kids is driving you nuts!

You are about to finally finish that complex report when your spouse reminds you that you promised to get lunch ready.

It’s like waking up late and spending the whole day fighting fires.

(I contrast a well-planned day with a distracted, ineffective one in a previous article: https://seekersguidance.org/articles/featured-articles/islamic-time-management-series-power-your-day-with-pre-planning-sidi-tushar-imdad/).

Imagine moving city, or starting a new job. Wouldn’t there be so much research and prep you’d do? The unprecedented situation we find ourselves in is no less dramatic – indeed, for many of us, it’s even more disruptive.

The more disrupted your life is, the more you need to plan for it.

So HOW do you optimize your time at home to ensure continued productivity at home.

Below I share 10 pro tips, all of which I practise myself:

1. Sit with your spouse and plan your week.
If you want to be a ‘super couple’ I recommend you do this every week, but for now we ALL need to be doing this. Since you’re both working under the same roof and kids are home, you need to thrash out the following:

  1. Who will home-school/ monitor the kids and when?
  2. Who and when will shop online or locally
  3. Agree meal times, start of work times, end of work times

2. Define and agree clear work times.
You will argue. You will get stressed. It’s all normal and all part of the process. Arguments always happen when expectations are not met. So you need to COMMUNICATE and AGREE what your expectations are for work time and family time. If you are the husband, you need to make sure your family understands when you are unavailable. If you are the wife, you must communicate and discuss any help you need from your husband BEFORE he gets absorbed in his work. Nothing starts an argument like being interrupted from an important task and being asked to help with something not agreed to before!

3. Set up a defined work area.
Hopefully, you have a study or a room which you can designate as your makeshift ‘office’. Even if it’s a bedroom, that’s fine for now. Just ensure your family know that between work hours you are unavailable.

4. Put up a sign.
My coach has us print ‘Do not disturb’ signs and stick them on the door when we are embarking on ‘deep work’. Some office workers will even stick such a sheet on their backs . The point is to communicate deadly seriousness that your work time is sacred. Because it is.

5. Share breakfast or lunch with family.
To make strategy 4 more palatable for your family, give back by being really present for a family meal – either breakfast or lunch. You’d normally be eating alone or at the office. Take advantage of the curfew by enjoying a bonus 30 minutes purely with your family. If you do this with presence, your family will be more than happy enough to then let you work intensively later.

6. Set an alarm for all your salahs.
It’s surprisingly easy to get into bad habits with salah when working from home. Your whole routine has changed and the usual cues – including the chance to pray in the masjid – are gone. You can read my brief LinkedIn post about this point here:
https://www.linkedin.com/posts/tushar-imdad-0a466b13_islamictimemanagement-productivitytips-timemanagement-activity-6648563223773745152-Yo0x

7. Keep to clear boundaries.
As my wife has reminded me on many of the occasions when I’ve slipped up on this point, there’s nothing more frustrating for your family than when you keep working past your agreed end time. If you decide and agree that you will finish at 6, then stop at 6. You’ve given your word. Stick to it. Go and be with your family for Allah’s sake.

When you keep working past your set boundaries, it communicates indifference and disrespect to your family. Your kids and your spouse see that you value your work more than them. Don’t let this happen – especially in these fearful times – when they need you to lead and guide them most.

8 .Go for a morning walk.
I won’t hyperlink again, but I’ve written before about the power of a morning walk. In countries like the UK, we are restricted to just one session of outdoor exercise outside. Ironically, this may help families exercise MORE than before! Make it an unmoveable part of your schedule to go on a 10-30 minute morning walk. If you can bring family with you, then you kill two birds with one stone! A brisk, morning walk can bring wonders to your energy, mood and sleep. Don’t miss it.

9. Schedule time for Islamic gatherings or learning LIVE.
One of the hardest aspects of the current pandemic is our isolation from each other. When in our lives have we ever been prevented from attending the masjid? As such, it is vital we replace this with the best, possible substitute: online halaqas or lectures or lessons where Islamic knowledge is being imparted and pious ‘ulema are present. Try to attend live as there is much more barakah in live sessions. Seekersguidance.org have a whole range of quality courses from absolute beginner to those proficient in Arabic – all completely FREE. Aim for at least one weekly majlis that you attend.

Aside from the social and spiritual benefits from this, spending time with those beloved to Allah palpably helps your mindset. It’s a soothing antidote to all the fear and negativity from news and social media.

10. Calendarize and timetable all the above.
I can’t emphasize this enough. You must schedule all the above in writing, or on your app. Once you write it down in your calendar, it becomes concrete. It becomes a commitment. So many good intentions float away as they simply weren’t tied down to a written plan.

Try implementing these 10 steps methodically and you’ll experience a profound sense of control and order in the midst of turbulence.

As we enter Sha’ban, our minds will start preparing for Ramadan. Allah has blessed us with a whole month to get to grips with the new unexpected lifestyle changes brought on by Covid-19. One of the best things you can do in this month is to get organized, start mastering your schedule and live optimally as possible.

That way, when Ramadan arrives, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

Praying for barakah and taufeeq in your time,

Tushar Imdad 

P.S. I run an Islamic-oriented online homeschool academy, specialising in quality English teaching suitable to support any Western curriculum. We are due to expand to meet the new demand caused by school closures and also add science and maths to the programme. If you are interested in learning more, please complete this short survey so I can understand your needs: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/VHFF356

If you enjoyed this article, you can sign up to Tushar’s mailing list for his weekly Jum’a articles, free content about Islamic Time Management as well as updates for exciting courses or services: https://mailchi.mp/5879bd7982eb/tusharimdad


Biography:
Tushar Imdad (aka Tushar Mohammed Imdad-ul-Haque Bhuiya) is an Islamic Time Management Coach and Educational Entrepreneur. Professionally trained as a high school English teacher, Tushar has taught or managed prominent Islamic schools in Leicester, UK, between 2007-2016. With a flair for managing multiple roles, Tushar is also a GCSE English examiner, a teacher trainer for AMS UK; professional proofreader; former lead instructor at Madrasa Manara; and is currently the Director of Shaykhspeare’s Online English Academy and High Impact Tutors.  
 A long-term student of knowledge, Tushar has studied a range of Islamic sciences at the feet of scholars such as Shaykh Nuh Keller, Umm Sahl, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Maulana Ilyas Patel and Ustadh Tabraze Azam. In 2015 he completed Level 5 of the Classical Arabic Program from the prestigious Qasid Institute, Amman.   
Throughout his varied career, Tushar has always been driven by a passion for time management. Starting in 2009, he has delivered a mixture of workshops, webinars, web-coaching and client visits, attracting delegates as varied as CEOs, corporate professionals, housewives, dentists and scholars from places spanning the UK, US and Middle East. Tushar has published articles and delivered training for ProductiveMuslim.com, SeekersGuidance.org and Qibla.com (now Kiflayn). In recent years he has immersed himself in  productivity systems, learning from world-class experts such as Demir Bentley, the authors of The One Thing, Leo Babuta and James Clear. His recent courses have included  ‘Principles of Islamic Time Management’, ‘Time Tactics 101’ and ‘The Breakthrough Habit’.