Imam Ghazali on Time Management

Like many entrepreneurs, creatives and doers, I struggle with time management. There is always so much to do and my biggest hurdle has been creating a system around what I do and delegating it to the proper resources, so that I can fully maximize my time.

I recently installed Rescue Time and starting tracking my time on an hour-by-hour basis. This shocked me back into reality. The software shows you exactly how you spend each hour you are online. And for us digital nomads, it’s quite daunting to come to terms with the way you use your time in such an ‘in-your-face’ way.

On a deeper level, many of us spent almost 15 years in the education system where motivation is essentially coming from an external source such as teachers, friends or deadlines. You aren’t taught how to shape your life and control your time, someone else does it for you. So when you graduate and venture on your own for a bit after having gone through the system, you end up lost.

I definately did.

I haven’t full recovered from my ‘conditioning, so to speak, which is why I need these tools to keep me in check.

All of a sudden, after graduating, I had “all this time” and no idea how to use it, mold it or shape it to have work it for me. And if you are reading this, you’ve probably been in the same boat.

People email me and call me asking questions like: “How do I get more motivated?”

They are asking this because they’re not use to having trained that internal motivator within them, it’s easy to lose momentum and need constant reinforcement.

What I’ve learned is that the moment you start taking life and time more seriously is when you figure out exactly what your life’s work is.

When you discover your purpose, time starts working for you instead of against you.

It’s easier to do things, make progress and not slack off.

People procrastinate mostly because they hate what they are doing and would rather do something else.

When what you do engages you, the question of time management stops being a question of management and rather a question of balance.

apple-coffee-computer-45 (1)But on a more philsophical level, the question of time is an interesting one.

What is time? Why does it exist?

The question of how we measure time can be answered by asking the question: how do you measure your life?

In the world we live in, we normally organize our time according to the question of capital.

Your world will start to change when you measure your time against something other than money such as your legacy, your own self-mastery, helping others etc

I came to this paradigm shift within my own spiritual practice. Islam provides an alternative answer regarding the question of life. It looks at putting knowledge acquisition and continual personal development at the core.

One of the scholars I looked to was Imam Ghazali. He is one of Islams most foremost scholars and philsophers. His writings on the topic of time management are worth looking at. His core message is accountability.

One should be sure that every moment should be accounted for.

His suggestion? Create a routine. That’s how you get baraka “blessing” or productivity.

For contemporary productivity or personal development research, these finding are in line with the main thoughts of the day. Many peak performance gurus will talk about creating a morning routine, the importance of meditation, starting your day early, and accounting for your time at the end of each day as key components of having a successful life. These ideas were espoused in Islamic thought centuries ago but it has taken Muslims quite some time to start realizing this and contributing to the field of personal development.

Here are some time management tips from Imam Ghazali:

  1. Time should not be without structure.
  2. Order your day and night.
  3. Organize routine of worship(5 daily prayers) and assign activity to each period.
  4. Start your day at dawn and as soon as you wake and remember God(or meditate)
  5. Until sunrise, you should occupy your time with 4 types of rememberence
    a.Supplication
    b. Recitation
    c. Glorification
    d Reflection – Plan you day with the long-term
  6. By day, use your time to do the following:
    a. Seeking useful knowledge. Best use of time and highest form of worship. useful knowledge helps increase God-consciousness.
    b. If you are unable to, rememberance and worship. Do good acts. Bring happines to other people and make it easier for righteous to do good work like visiting sick, helping others etc
    c. Spending your time and earning a living. Beware of world greed because it ruins faith and inner spiritual contentment.
  7. Before you go to bed, take an account for what you did during the day. Actions are according to the last of them. Don’t spend your time in entertainment but reviewing what you’ve learned during the day.

Note on the last point: Before you go to bed, don’t use your phone. The blue screen of your phone or computer reduces the level of melatonin in your body, which is a chemical that helps you sleep. A modern tip for us night owls.

Lessons in Time Management as an entrepreneurs:
I’ve learned a few things:

1) It’s easy to accomplish a lot but still be too hard on yourself. Celebrate after every accomplishment.

2) Sometimes you don’t need to work hard to accomplish a lot.

3) Identify things that will make you slack off and then eliminate it immediately.

4) Energy comes from people, so don’t spend too much time alone.

5) It’s an ongoing process to tract my time day-by-day but the more you are aware of how you spend your time, the less lightly you are to be reckless with it.

6) Create an incantation list of what you want to accomplish. Repeat it every morning for 10 minutes. It will help rejuvenitate you. Instant energy hack.

7) Create a vision board. Open up a pinterest and start mapping out how you want your life to look like. It’ll give you energy and make you less likely to slack off. 85% of my vision board came true for last year.

8) Don’t open your email or social media first thing in the morning. Your productivity will drain if you do that. 

9) Even if you can’t measure your time, try to fill in crack of time(like cooking, commuting etc) with education audio books and lectures. This makes my day feel way better and more productive.

10) Balance how much you work and your learn. It’s a constant re-shuffling of priorities and hard to maintain. 

Realize that no one knows anything anymore than you do for your own situation. I’ve had to stop looking to others to guide my journey as a digital nomad and figure how what was best for me.
All these are simply suggestions I hope you will use to better your life.
with love,
Hodan

Interview with Mohamed Geraldez, Entrepreneur & Investor in Fashion, Technology & Finance.

Interview with Mohamed Geraldez, Entrepreneur & Investor on Increasing Entrepreneurship in the Muslim community

Growing up, I, like many others, were never educated that entrepreneurship was a viable career path to take. The lack of job opportunities for the young Muslim generation(and most grads) has a lot of people asking for alternative ideas. Our parents brought us up believing that going to school and getting a job is what we needed to do with our lives. It’s increasingly clear that young people want more than that. They want fulfillment, meaning and to want to contribute significantly to our world. Economic imperatives are also pushing people to find non traditional forms of employment due to global competition and technological advancements.

I stumbled upon entrepreneurship after doing a few “entrepreneurial activities”. I had no idea this was entrepreneurship and that it could prove useful as a mechanism to help solve community issues. What’s worse, everyone treated it like I was pursuing a hobby rather than trying to live out my natural inclination to create things, as if that was a bad thing and it got in the way of ‘normal’ things I should be doing.

Resources don’t just refer to capital but also knowledge. Unfortunately, the lack of community leaders, role models and discussions were a big part of my lack of knowledge. Our thinking is in need of innovation before we will ever see community leaders who embrace the idea of entrepreneurship.

Many of our parents came half way across the world leaving their assets behind. Even though you may not have assets like land, real estate, owning major infrastructure(much of it has been destroyed by way of war and conquest) there is one asset that you can build from scratch: build your own company. And while you may not want to own a company, the principle of entrepreneurship comes down to this: creating value by solving problems. Something that, regardless of the argument, we are in desperate need of.

I really believe a strong case needs to be made in order to ensure that entrepreneurship is a key component in shaping the future of the Muslim community in the modern world.

I had the great pleasure of speaking to and interviewing Mohamed Geraldez, an inspirational and successful Muslim entrepreneur.

Mohamed Geraldez is an American Muslim entrepreneur, motivational speaker and investor in a few companies in different industries like the first and largest vegan necktie company in the world www.JaanJ.com, and www.GeorgeCharlesAndSons.com – a men’s custom suit maker in New York City. He actively invests in various commercial arenas including technology with startups like www.TheTechBlock.com, a curator of tech-related content, and is a strategic adviser to www.Pivotshare.com, a digital media distribution and monetization startup.

Mr. Geraldez also serves as an advisory board member to several entities like the Information Technology Consulting Firm, GeniusCo, and the American Muslim Consumer Conference group that hosts the most important yearly gathering that connects leading American corporations with American Muslim entrepreneurs, companies, businessmen/women and investors.

wief_sitting

I asked him some questions around the theme of increasing entrepreneurship in the Muslim community and wanted to share the incredible answers and an inside view into the mind of a successful Muslim entrepreneur.

Hodan: “What were the main reasons why you become an entrepreneur? Where any of those reasons inspired by Islamic principles?

Mohamed: “I wanted to be my own boss. I didn’t like working for people and wanted to have more control over my life . I got fired from 4-5 job, so I figured the job path wasn’t working for me . As a kid, I liked selling. I was always a doer. I just didn’t like making other people rich, I wanted to have say in my life . For example, I couldn’t join happy hour in the work place. All my co-workers would go for a drink but because I was Muslim I didn’t participate. I couldn’t rise in the rank because of the barriers that prevented me from doing so due to my adherence to my faith.

What are two hurdles you faced and how did you overcome them?

When becoming an entrepreneur, I faced a few things. Two things would be:

One I never had a mentor in the space. I couldn’t get one. There were a lack of practicing Muslims and the few that are practicing weren’t not scrupulous about entrepreneurship. And those who are good at business weren’t good at Islam. For example, there are Islamic prohibitions that many don’t adhere to such as I couldn’t go to the bank and get one due to interest.

The way I overcame this that was to become one.

Secondly, there was a lack of support. Unfortunately, there is always lots of backbiting, doubting and people bootlegging my products. What they needed to realized is that someone winning isn’t going to take away from the bounties offered by Allah(SWT).

The only way to overcome people wanting you to fail is just telling them: I’m going to show you.

Hodan: Considering that Islam has a strong tradition of entrepreneurship and business, what do you feel is the main reason for not many young Muslim wanting to tread this path?

Mohamed: I believe it comes down to ethnic problems and the way entrepreneurship talked about. There are cultural pressures to work hard at taking jobs such as doctors, engineers or higher paid employees. Being an entrepreneur being looked down upon . Typically, we have the idea that only poor people become entrepreneurs. Those who can’t find a ‘real’ job take on jobs such as selling bread or clothing. They’re forced to create economic opportunities for themselves.

Hodan: What are some tips and pieces of advice on the way we can start helping increase entrepreneurship in the Muslim community, particularly in North America?

Mohamed: WE need a culture that allows for failure. If you don’t fail, you can’t succeed. We need incubators in big Islamic organizations like ICNA and ISNA. In terms of funding , it first starts locally with Imams in our communities discussing the benefits of entrepreneurship in our community. The fact of the matter is, big companies people want to work for today came from the entrepreneurs .

I remember one scholar saying: “In terms of impact, I would take 1 successful businessman than 10 doctor.” That’s how powerful the impact of an entrepreneur is.

We need to support each other and be able to receive feedback , and not support the very factors that keep us stagnating. Ultimately, we need to take pride in entrepreneurship as a tool of value creation.

Hodan: What are some tips and advice for young(often isolated and under resourced) Muslims who want to go this path?

Mohamed: I would say don’t be afraid to fail. Step up and stand out.

Embrace your identity and use it to your advantage. Be courageous. Follow your heart. Listen to your parents and don’t be disrespectful. It’s important that you serve them. Prophet Ibrahim(as) engaged his father when he(as) accepted Islam. He was respectful and kind.

If your parents disagree with your life choose, just tell them: “believe in me, and all I want is for you not to say anything against my decision. Don’t hurt me with your words. ” Try to make them understand it is not for everyone but it’s the right choice for you. It’s difficult. Try to find your lane and be faithful to your Lord. Your parents may be wrong but you should understand.

But overall, prepare for a hard journey because it is not easy.

To learn more about Mohammed, visit his website or read his unique personal story in the book by White Cloud Publications “All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim.” The book can be ordered at Amazon.com.

yahya-book

10 Innovative Ideas for The Muslim Community To Prosper

Hey Everyone!

I was asked to guest post for an incredible website, Maestrouzy. Please follow them on Twitter, with over 158,000 followers and Facebook, with over 2000+!

Below is a guest post originally posted on Maestrouzy. Have a look and looking forward to hearing your comments.

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I wanted to say this article came from a great discussion I had with a friend, Obeid Ahmed who runs Oak Computing, a fantastic web development company. Check out their website!

We sat down to discuss some of the problems and solutions to many of the painful issues facing our community and it turned out to be such a fruitful discussion.

With a little creativity, ingenuity, and will power some problems can be turned out completely. Check out this list of 10 innovative ideas for the Muslim community and add your own in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you.

1. Community gardens in Mosques- To counter the increasing prevalence of genetically alternative food, many people have taken the responsibility of growing their own food into their own hands. Many alternative agricultural methods and ideas have taken hold since then, such as Permaculture and Biodynamic Farming. Many mosques have extra green spaces that can otherwise be used to grow organic vegetables, fruits and herbs. This produce can go to community food banks, feeding Muslim families or selling them to make extra income for mosques. A great example of a company already doing this (Not-Islamic) is HiddenHarvest. You can pay them to plant a tree for you, and a percentage of the food is split between you, a charity and the rest is sold on the market. This is definitely an idea whose time has come for our community!

2. Entrepreneurial Classes in Islamic Schools- Ideally, many parents want to send their kids to the best schools that provide a conducive Islamic environment. Unfortunately, often times, Islamic schools are essentially public school system with a Muslim face. What Islamic schools add the odd Islamic classes, prayer times and accommodating around religious rituals; they don’t address root issues; societal issues, such as drug or alcohol influence, doesn’t stop between the hours of 9am and 3pm.

I’m not saying Islamic schools don’t have a place in a modern community; rather they need to be more innovative about how they take responsibility to shaping the lives of the next generation of young Muslims. They need to better adapt to the modern times rather than follow the same systems all around us. Most schools follow the industrial model in how they structure their schools, how they separate kids (based on age), what subjects are taught and in what order.

Of course, there can’t be an entire overhaul but being creative and innovative such as creating classes that teach entrepreneurship and prepare kids for the future that awaits them is essential. These classes will teach them how to be risk-takers, how to create and build things for others and how to be creative. It will give Muslim schools an edge over many other schools that currently don’t teach it.

3. Locally-raised and born Imam should lead our communities- The days of importing Imams from from foreign countries need to be over. If a lack of credible Islamic scholars is an issue, the first solution shouldn’t be to import Imams, but to raise young Muslims already born in the city to become the leaders over their communities. Wouldn’t the generations born into a particular community be more knowledgeable and better adept at solving community problems than Imams brought from foreign countries? I’ve seen communities divided over this one issue and it can easily be remedied by looking for local solutions to local problems.

4. Increase the Number of Muslim Woman-Owned Business- In my free e-book, A Brief Guide To World Domination For The Muslim Woman and How To Be an Entrepreneur for the Muslim Woman, I’ve spoken about how Muslim women need to start creating their own narratives, taking charge of their lives and being responsible for their contributions to the world. I’ve suggested entrepreneurship as one of the main methods where a Muslim woman can follow her dreams and have a stable home life. Studies have shown that for marriages to be stable there needs to be one full-time individual at home raising children while there is another full-time breadwinner. Make sense doesn’t it? The difficulties of modern life require that most people work outside the home as well as the women’s liberation women that have taken women outside their home and away from the responsibility of raising children. A women owning her own business part-time or working from home is a solution to this problem and can bring in the extra revenue needed.

5. Islamic Home Schooling movement- Muslim population is a growing segment in the ever growing home schooling movements. The Washington Posts reports that many Muslim parents are choosing to home school their children in order to properly educate their kids in the way that public system has failed as well as to heavily emphasize religion-based learning in their children’s education.

Not only that, but many aspects of the education of a whole human that are being left out in the public education can be implemented at home, such as financial management, rhetoric classes, home economics etc. It’s not just about the subjects you choose to teach your child but that you have control over the values you are able to instill in them. And you don’t have to start from scratch. There are many networks and organizations that service this group. An example of organizations that provide home schooling curriculum is Kinza Academy. Look in your own community for networks of Muslims who home-school their kids.

6. MSA Job Boards- Considering the powerhouses that Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) are on university campuses; their ability to connect a set of educated and ethnically diverse Muslims is an asset. Just imagine a job board existed to service and connect Muslim employers and Muslim students. While many may argue for meritocracy, youth unemployment is very high and we might as well help our own communities first. This can serve as a support system for young Muslims leaving their education system and provide a cushion until they can stand on their own feet.

7. Crowd funding- In my piece, Fundraising, The Muslim Way: How Crowdfunding Needs To Be In Our Future, I discussed an alternative solution to conventional Muslim fundraising methods that rely on inefficient techniques to raise money for Islamic projects. Crowd funding is a way to create a campaign on platforms such as KickstartedIndiegogo or Ummah Hub and raise money for your project that you end up keeping. It’s 100% Islamic- no interest or interest-bearing loans involved. The people who fund your project are people who understand and want to support your work. So instead of spending 20 minutes during Taraweeh prayers trying to coerce people to give you money for your project, why not  try out crowd funding?

8. Khutbah’s talk about Current Affairs- When was the last time you went to a Khutbah and hear relevant and insightful talk? Friday sermons are generally serving the purpose of remembering God and coming together as a form of reflection in our week. Rarely are most topics about relevant community issues or turning our attention to current affairs affecting the wellness of our community.Important discussions around issues of drug abuse, helping Muslims find alternatives to genetically modified foods we are force-fed, or are replaced by cliche topics of how to properly purify yourself before prayer, hijab or other fiqh matters. No one is debating their lack of importance but it’s important to remember the bigger picture. Khutbah’s are a powerful way to change a community from week to week and it’s crucial that this time not be wasted on non-crucial issues.

9. Libraries/Coffee Lounges in Mosques- This leads into the discussion of the creation of self- sustaining mosques. The discussion naturally leads Muslims to go back to using Mosques as central pillars in our communities. So why not transform them to not just as places to pray for a total of 2 hours a day, but a place that is central to the activities of the day-to-day lives of Muslims.

Creating libraries halls or coffee lounges where people can study do business or meet over a cup of coffee is truly revolutionary because it creates ways where the mosque can generate revenue without having to rely on fundraising and brings back the “community” or “social aspect” of the kind of bonding our mosques need. Currently universities and coffee shops hold the monopoly on this idea, but I believe we can solely make mosques central to how we live our lives.

10. Youth-Run Mosques- It’s not a surprise that many mosques are run by bureaucracy. The levels of internal politics are governed by red tape and ethnic divisions. Many first-generation young Muslims don’t have the same attachments to nationalism and preserving mosques around ethnic lines as well as the patience for bureaucracy(we are the from the internet age, of course!). The idea of putting mature youth (18-30) in charge of some of main affairs of the mosque such as activity scheduling, leading prayers, lectures etc would bring a refreshing and progressive perspective to how to revitalize mosques.

I’ve presented 10 out of the box ideas on how to transform our communities. I’d love to know what you think and if you have any ideas that you believe have incredible potential for change (and you may have been too shy to share until this point).
Looking forward to hearing your comments!

 

Hodan Ibrahim is a young entrepreneur, educator and innovator based in Ottawa, Canada. She is the Founder of DISRUPT Media and Publisher of DISRUPT Magazine, which will be launching Fall 2013. She is also the author of an e book entitled: A Brief Guide to World Domination for the Muslim Woman, available on her blog complimentary for all. She is currently publishing her second ebook entitled: Guide to Entrepreneurship in Islam: Attempts to Resurrect Entrepreneurship Amongst Muslims Communities. It is available for purchase on her blog.
 
For more information, please visit: HodansIbrahim.com and follow her on Twitter @HouseofAssouan.

 

Sorry Muslims, Richard Dawkins Is Right

 A few days ago, scientist and militant atheist, Richard Dawkins, went on twitter and said the following:

“All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

What followed was an incredible backlash by many individuals to counter the claim that Muslims really haven’t done much to contribute to the world. What ignited the backlash may have been Mr Dawkins unfortunate timing –it was Eid after all. Had this been said in any other context, it would have been correct. But nonetheless, he is right. The truth hurts and painfully so. Sure the Nobel Prize isn’t a measuring tool for all accomplishments, nor should it be. But it’s hard, even as a Muslim, to deny the point that Dawkins was really making. Muslim haven’t done much and in the last couple of decades, we have been dealing with problems than trying to find any solutions to them and completely embroiled in debates on issues of minute importance to big geo-political issues on overall issues–social, political and economical. It’s not nice to be told you haven’t accomplished much in the wide spectrum of things, but no matter how bitter, it doesn’t detract from the truth.

Yes, Muslims are responsible for the inventions of windmills, public libraries, soaps, carpets, and alchemy. In fact, algebra was created in order to find a way to simplify Islamic inheritance laws!

But, what are we doing now? We can’t live in the past to create our future.

Have an idea your itching to get out? Comment below. I’d love to hear what you think.

If you like this post, please subscribe on the left hand side.

My latest e book “Guide to Entrepreneurship in Islam: Attempts to Resurrect Entrepreneurship Amongst Muslim Communities” is available.

Please don’t feel obligated to! If you’d like, click here to purchase,

with love,

Hodan

What is Religion? Faith or Vanity- Get Over Yourself

I am not the most religious person on earth. I am Muslim. Maybe not the best, but I do proclaim my faith in Islam.

For me, the basis of my faith can be summed up in one phrase:

Keep your heart busy with God, but your hands busy with the people.

People who work to educate others, end the cycle of poverty, give people water, shelter food in places where those things are scarce, people who look after orphans, people who build social business to solve prevalent social issues

…to me, these people are closest to God.

Not self-righteous individuals who believe in how long your ‘effin beard is, how many times you go to the mosque or whether you listen to the ‘correct Imam’–blasting people over their perceived ‘deviance’.

…this is not religion; that is vanity.

So, If your life isn’t devoted to helping others or making the world a better place, you aren’t shit. You don’t matter.

Is it Easier To Practice Islam In The West?

It certainly seems so.

The Islam I have encountered in Egypt is one of passion but the kind of passion one would find with a fanatic or someone who loves Islam because their mother was Muslim. It’s a passionate, awestruck-type love. The same reasons why someone would champion one race over another, or one nationality over another. It’s purely emotional.

It’s an Islam with clothing but no heart. No intellectual rigor. No critical thinking or deeper introspection

But I disgress.

Perhaps I am being too judgmental. Perhaps I haven’t been around enough practicing Muslims. Or perhaps I have? What does it mean to be practicing anymore?

The bias I have is being born in the West and having the privileged(and I call it a priveldge because nothing worth having comes without fighting for it) to fight for my faith—the ability to pray, to reserve the right to resist secular assumptions in conversaitons, in academia. You don’t take something for granted you have to fight for.

People I’ve met trying harder to be Western than they can ever be. Hell, I am more Western than any Easterner can ever try to be(born, raised and educated).

But as much as I have felt, Islam is respect in the West amongst the Muslims. The kind of respect that comes with truly understanding what you love and accepting it.

And right now, that is where my heart wants to be.