Issue # 2:
By time, Man is at Loss
“Some people spend their entire lives waiting for the time to be right to make an improvement.”
― James Clear, Atomic Habits
And some people like me, spend their entire lives feeling guilty for not having improved or progressed. We are constantly measuring our progress through the eyes of society rather than our internal clock of what brings us comfort and meaning.
For instance, it’s been a struggle to complete my degree in Islamic Studies. I started back in 2011 and since then I’ve slowly been inching towards 48 courses, and for whatever reason life has been throwing at me, I’m still currently on course number 21.
I am constantly reminded of this hadith: “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
I wonder if sometimes I am using it as an excuse to rid me of accountability; after all it took me only 3 years to complete my Masters in Science. Why is it that 10 years later I am still struggling to achieve my Bachelors in Islamic Studies? Is it the nature of the program, of it being online? or is it because I have already achieved my worldly degrees and this doesn’t account for much? Or is it that at this point I am just searching for knowledge? I’m hoping it’s the latter.
Regardless, my journey continues… and the more I learn the more I am humbled, the more I want to continue, even if it means one course a semester.
We are often so caught up in the world of speeding up the process; we don’t have the time to keep up with all our work so we rush through most of it. But what if we took time out of the calculation and kept it simple and let time pass by as it promises to. What if we just kept persisting regardless of the time it takes?
One of my all time favorites quotes is from the book, ‘The Tao of Pooh’ “You can’t save time. You can only spend it, but you can spend it wisely or foolishly.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh.
So let’s spend our time wisely and not worry about the current trajectory of it.
After all, in the Qur’an God promises paradise to the righteous person who does good deeds, not the one who does the most deeds in the shortest amount of time. Accordingly lets keep persisting in our deeds no matter how big or small, no matter the amount of time it takes.
“and to give glad tidings of a good reward to the believers who do righteous deeds,” [Qur’an, 18:2].
“Spend time wisely and do not worry about the current trajectory of it.”Tweet
Shifting the paradigm between Success & Failure
We are constantly trying to shift our balance between success and failure. Aiming more and more for success and avoiding as many failures as we can. What if we switched the paradigm? Instead of keeping our self in the center of success and failure, what if we evaluated our life as:
Would this shift, then help us strive more towards failure? Help us take more risks; garner more momentum towards our goals?
The Qur’an is filled with examples of such paradigm shifts:
“Perhaps you hate a thing that is best for you, and you love a thing that is bad for you. Allah knows, while you know not.” [Quran, Surah 2: Ayah 216]
Once we realize there is no success without failure, maybe we won’t be so worried about it. Or maybe we can see the larger picture of life. Every failure is a realization of self. Every failure brings you closer to your goal of succeeding in life. You cannot run away from failure, you can only embrace it: to learn from it, to grow from it.
Allah (SWT) reminds us in Surah Baqarah of the Qur’an:
“We shall certainly test you by afflicting you with fear, hunger, loss of properties and lives and fruits…” [Cont’d below}
These are all failures in the eyes of most human beings; unable to conceive, unable to feed your family, unable to provide shelter… but Allah (SWT) continues to remind us that in these perceived failures, there is ‘glad-tiding’.
“…Give glad tidings, then, to those who remain patient. Those, who when any affliction smites them, they say: “Verily, we belong to God, and it is to Him we shall return.” Upon them will be the blessings of their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.””[Quran Surah 2: Ayahs 155-157]
SubhanAllah. If we only understood the value of failure, maybe then we would realize that failure isn’t in the opposite direction of success; it is the path to success.
Failure is the path to success.Tweet
What does it mean to be a Mindful Muslim?
Mindfulness is ‘taking a step back’ and observing contents of the mind. It is a metacognitive process of being present in the moment and understanding the importance of that particular moment. Mindfulness, in the Islamic context is understood as muraqabah, which according to Wehr, Hans, and J M. Cowan is a word derived from the root meaning, “to watch, observe, regard attentively.” A Muslim in a state of muraqabah is in continuous state of taqwa, an Islamic term for being cognizant of God. Realizing that God is always watching helps us realize the importance of being attentive of our own inner thoughts. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “…worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He certainly sees you.”