Monthly Archives: May 2014

Confidence

Salam Alaykum

Over the last month, or more truthfully over the last week or two I’ve written about Confidence. In the introductory Post “Be More Confident” I gave as usual a definition of confidence, having full trust, belief or feeling that one can do  something. We believe that nothing can happen without the Will of Allah however our own effort has to be there for anything having the chance of going the way we want it. This concept of having Tawakkul versus Tawaakul and that Allah wants only good for us, I discussed in “Confidence with Regards to Allah”.  Our Religion teaches us to be at the forefront of upholding justice, even if it is against our own families, as the Qur’an tells us. We need  to uphold the values that we have, and be role models in our societies. Being Confident in our Religion, as a force for goodness. In “Silence” I revealed a fear of mine, being mute in the face of oppression. I do not want to be a witness to injustice and be silent, afraid of being just another bystander as in the Kitty Genovese Case, thinking that others would take care of the issue. Fear can’t hold us back in these situations, we have to do what is right and not what is easy. Finally, I wrote “Self-Confidence and Anxiety: Lessons drawn” a couple of days ago to analyse for myself, some of the situations that have been uncomfortable for me but which I had to go through.

In this Post, as I did last month, I’d like to give you and myself some tips on being more confident. These come from various articles, Videos etc. that I thought I’d compile here to come back to.

Brett Mckay, in an article at the artofmanliness quite aptly said, “Confidence is quiet, it’s unpretentious”. For me, confidence isn’t about being right in someone’s face, giving them once over and huffing at them. That is arrogance. So is saying that you can do  everything  without the help of others. It is about being strict when it is needed and being lenient when it is needed. Knowing when to be strong and to sink with the ship and when to retreat and let others help.

Being Confident is about the Outward appearance as much as it is about the inward state. Be comfortable with who you are and dress the part, while being modest. The Prophet saw. told us “…Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty”, so shower regularly, brush your teeth, comb your hair and take the time to dress well. Dress in a way you wouldn’t mind going on an impromptu business meeting, Mckay recommends. I’d say dress in such a way you wouldn’t be embarrassed to meet the One who  Created you, the Salaf used to have a separate clothing for going to prayers.

Set Goals and meet them, so that you have something to look back on to assure yourself in a time when things may not go the way you thought it would. In the same vein, learn new skills and excel in the ones that you already have. Write a letter to yourself after an achievement, as Dr. Ivan Joseph did. As you do this, as you remind yourself of your past achievements, thank Allah for them and ask Him to make your future successful. Don’t let past failures stand in your way of achieving, thank Allah for them, they were a test. You are the person you are today because of them, strive to become better every single day until you take your last breath.

Think of the great men and women in the past and seek to excel and overshadow them. As it was said in this video, seek to be the best you can be even the Mujadid (Reviver of Islam) of this Century. Reach for the moon and if it turns out you only caught a star, be happy that you got such a pretty thing.

In times of hardship turn to Allah swt.. The Prophet saw. used to whenever he had a problem would pray 2 Rakat, seeking God’s help. Let ‘s revive this Sunnah. Whenever we have to make any decision let’s consult amongst each other (Istishara), seek goodness from Allah (Istikharah) then carry out our decision with determination (Azm) and then have trust and confidence in Allah. (Tawakkul)

Care less about what other people think and improve the way you think about yourself. As formulated in Lessons drawn from the article I read a while ago, let go of the contradiction in your mind. That what you have to say is rubbish, not of importance and that no one cares about your opinion, while fearing that others would care enough to put your ideas down. Numb Yourself to the thinking that everyone is out for you. Create a positive self-image of yourself, don’t put yourself down other people already do that for free but also don’t delude yourself. Know your strength and weaknesses and improve.

Face your fears a step at a time. Start small with whatever you are working on. If you have Social Anxiety, maybe meet 1 or 2 people, get to know them and include more and more. Pace yourself, but put yourself out on a limb however small it is. Talk to Cashiers, Waiters, ask them about their day something inconsequential. Do this often with as many people as possible, join a help group. The world outside of Tumblr is not as bleak as it looks.

Distance yourself from the people that bring you down. If you are constantly in the presence of friends or family members who do nothing else than insult you, abuse you then try to find a safe spot. Involve other parties, get a counsellor, call a helpline to help you out, to at least talk about it, take care of yourself. Our religion implores on us not to cut family ties, but  that does not mean that one stays in abusive environments.

Finally, have in mind and this is for everyone, that being introvert does not mean that one is also shy or lacks confidence. Being an Introvert simply means that one is more reserved and prefers or needs solitude to recharge. It is possible to be a shy extrovert (ENFJ). Don’t buy into the stereotypes, that you being silent is automatically a sign of your lack off confidence and try to overcompensate. I always say that the Prophet saw. said “say something good or stay silent”, now I just need to work on those panic attacks.

Wa Allahu A’lam, this as usual is a reminder for myself first and foremost. I probably needed it most, to display and formulate my thoughts to get past it. May Allah swt. increase our confidence and trust in Him, for it is in Him we Trust. May He increase our confidence in ourselves, so that we may be confident with who we are and be leaders in our communities. Amin.

Wa Salam,

Abdur-Rahman

 

 

Self-Confidence and Anxiety: Lessons drawn

Salam Alaykum.

“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar”, my voice crows. Behind me sit 200 people, listening to my shaky voice. Noticing my leg, as it trembles almost giving away. My hands as they give away my nervousness, clammy. In Ramadan I was asked to lead a part of the Taraweeh prayer, everyone of us over 16 took 2 Rakat. As my turn came, I acted as if I didn’t notice, didn’t feel the stares nor the calling of my name until I felt a light tapping on my leg. My heart racing, feeling light-headed, sick even I stood up. In my last year of college, I was asked by the last years Islamic Society president to take over. Every khutba (Sermon), every Prayer I lead was a repeat, it felt like a never ending upward hill climb. I thought by the end of it I’d be used to it, I was looking forward to that. I’m still fighting with it.

Dr. Ivan Joseph, a Football coach at the University of Ryerson said, at a TEDx conference, about self-confidence, that it is a skill. A skill that can be trained and honed through a lot of repetition or more so persistence.  He noted J.K Rowling as an example, whose first draft was refused by 12 publishers until it was accepted. He mentioned that one of his athletes a goalie now playing in Europe set his target at 350 repeats a day for 8 months until he could catch it. Or as Malcolm Gladwell said in his book the Outliers “In fact, by the age of twenty, the elite performers (violinists) had each totalled ten thousand hours of practice.” The basis for the 10,000 hours rule to be an expert.

In all the stories of the Messengers as. (peace be upon them) you’ll find repetition and persistence as was God’s will. It required a lot of confidence in them selves and in Allah swt. to face the obstacles that we could not have imagined for ourselves. These however are supposed to guide us in our life, we are to take lessons out of these for our daily life.

Imagine that your society, your people, your family turned on you. Noah as. {peace be upon him) is a perfect example. This amazing personality called people to guidance for 950 years and only a handful of people listened to what he had to say. He preached, called, invited, warned, gave them the good news, night and day, as the Quran tells us. He did this all the time, around the clock. Even with all the effort that he put in calling them to the Guidance they refused to listen, would stick their fingers in their ears, would cover the heads with their garments to avoid having to see him, to avoid making eye contact. What would such a rejection for centuries, from people he knew from birth, watched grow up and up to their death, do to a person who didn’t have self-confidence and full confidence in Allah swt.?

What must have been the emotional state of Joseph as. who was abandoned by his brothers, then sold as a slave and thrown into prison until eventually becoming the governor to the king, if he didn’t have confidence in Allah. One particular part of the Seerah of the Prophet saw. came to mind. As he saw. received the Message for the first time he was afraid, he didn’t know what to think. He thought that God swt. was punishing him. This story highlights for me, in this context, the importance of positive reinforcement. As he saw. ran to his house calling for Khadijah ra. to cover him up, and he began explaining what had happened to him. Khadijah ra. began listing all of his good qualities and the good things that he had done for the people that called him As-Sadiq Al-Amin, to assure him of his standing with God. She believed in him instantly.

Moses as. was to speak out against the Pharaoh who was not only the leader of probably the biggest kingdom on earth at the time, but also killed thousands of babies for fear of an opponent. Moses was to oppose this ruler, and he had a speech impediment on top of that magnanimous challenge, and was even insulted by Pharaoh because of this speech defect, but it is him as. who is called Kalemullah the one who conversed with Allah swt. All of these Prophets as. have in common a confidence in Allah and in themselves of carrying out whatever Allah swt. willed.

An article I read a couple of days ago brought me to the attention of the hypocrisy that I and probably many have. We feel that what we have to say is of non-importance, the we are boring and at the same time we think that everyone would judge us, that everyone is watching our every step, looking to call us out as hypocrites, as being as non important as we feel. I started this post with an account of a year ago at Jumuah, I was certain that everyone noticed my voice shaking, that they noticed my trembling and they probably did, but so what? No one came up to me and said “you know how you were trembling and your voice kept changing, while giving the Adhan, that was hilarious.” I did not have to face Pharaoh. Numb yourself to the thinking, that everyone is out to get you.

That incident in Ramadan a year ago, was disabling, I felt horrible about my reaction it had never gotten so bad before. I let myself get lost in anxiety. In such situations it may help to fight it with logic. Anxiety is illogical, it is the fear of something that has not entered and most likely will not enter. Box it in, think about all the “what ifs” and work backwards. Think of instances where you have done something successfully, this has worked often during Parkour. Fall back on your achievements in times of hardship. Find positive reinforcement, whether it is from people or as Dr. Joseph did, write a letter to yourself in a time of happiness to regain confidence. But most importantly fall back to God, know that He will not leave you alone, that with every hardship there is ease.

By the end of my term as President of the ISOC, I was indeed getting used to giving talks. My limbs did not tremble as much, as it did at the beginning but with the end of College I was not put into situations as often where I had to give talks, presentations etc. so I began to fall back somewhat. Robert Kelsey, author of  “What’s Stopping You?” in a video series on confidence, said that it may always stay with you but it is something you learn to overcome. Always put yourself out there, start small, step by step. Advice to talk to cashiers or waiters are often given, they have to be nice to you and are most likely bored. Sheikh Omar Suleiman once mentioned that he asked a cashier how her day was, and she was over the moon that he’d ask, that she had a terrible day, her boyfriend broke up with her etc. wanting to get that off her chest and having no one to talk to.

Do not add to the negativity about yourself that other people are giving you for free. Surround yourself with positivity, Muhammad Ali would shout “I am the greatest”. No one except the One, will believe in you unless you do. God in His absolute Mercy will never abandon you, even if you have abandoned yourself. Every breath that we take is a chance He gave us to return to Him. Having Confidence in Allah and trusting in what Allah swt. has ordained for us enhances confidence in ourselves. We have to recognise when things are in our capacity to change and when things are in the Hands of Allah alone.

It was We who created you: will you not believe? Consider [the semen] that you eject? Do you create it yourself, or are We the Creator? We have ordained death to be among you. Nothing could stop Us if We intended to change you and recreate you in a way unknown to you. You have learned how you were first created; will you not reflect? Consider the seeds you sow in the ground – If We wished, We could turn your harvest into chaff and leave you to wail, We are burdened with debt; we are bereft. Consider the water you drink. Was it you who brought it down from the rain-cloud or We? If We wanted, We could make it bitter: will you not be thankful? Consider the fire you kindle. Is it you who makes the wood for it to grow or We? We made it a reminder, and useful to those who kindle it, so [Prophet] glorify the name of your Lord, the Supreme.” [Qur’an 56:57-74]

As usual this is intended as a reminder for me first and foremost

wa Salam,

Abdur-Rahman

Consider the seeds you sow

Consider the seeds you sow in the ground is it you who makes them grow or We? If We wished, We could turn your harvest into chaff and leave you to wail, We are burdened with debt; we are bereft. Consider the water you drink. Was it you who brought it down from the rain-cloud or We? If We wanted, We could make it bitter: will you not be thankful? Consider the fire you kindle. Is it you who makes the wood for it to grow or We? We made it a reminder, and useful to those who kindle it, so [Prophet] glorify the name of your Lord, the Supreme.

[Qur’an 56:63-74]

Videos? Love ’em XXX

Salam Alaykum,

another week has passed alhamdulillah. So here are my favourite Videos this Week, as usual in the Categories. Islam, in under and over 10 minutes. Parkour, Youtube, Shortfilms, Motion Graphics and finally Vimeo. This Weekend was the ICNA Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, America. They streamed the main hall events online, it was amazing mashaAllah. May Allah grant Jannat ul Firdaws to those organising it and helping out and Jazakallahu khairan for streaming it. Okay let’s get into the videos!

Islam

Under 10 minutes

This Video is a hard hitting reminder of how we should rely on Allah swt. the blessings that we have and how we use them. Stories like this are also recounted in the Over 10 minutes part of this category. Definitely worth a watch, a reminder in less than 10 minutes.

Over 10 minutes


Are we rebels without purpose? What is our purpose? As Muslims we believe we were created with a purpose. To worship Allah, Ibadah takes effort on our part. At the same time we are obliged to serve humanity. In all of this we should set our goals high especially with Ramadan this Summer. This Khutba, this friday sermon is an important reminder of setting higher ambitions for ourselves.

Parkour


Absolutely Amazing Precisions and Kong to Precisions

Youtube

Shorts

Brilliant Stroytelling, I absolutely love the style of animation and the implementation of the changes to the story.

Motion Graphics

Vimeo

This cool animation totally reminded me of my time in Egypt last Summer.

Honourable Mentions:

That’s it the 30th edition of “Videos? Love ’em” click #Videolovin‘ to see all posts in this Series.
Wa Salam,
Abdur-Rahman

Silence

Salam Alaykum,

the problem with me is that I over think situations, maybe my being introverted adds to that. I think out conversations in my head, the way they might turn, what I may say and how I may respond. Even with all that planning in my head, I never manage to say what I want to, either it comes out all jumbled trying to keep up with what I’m thinking or the moment has passed.

It is my fear that I would be quiet, that I would be silent in the face of injustice. Fearful that I would not be able to fulfil the commandment  of God. To be with the righteous and stand up against those treated unjustly, even if those that are doing the oppressing are of our kin of our friends. This month is all about confidence, the first post on confidence with regards to God. Knowing that whatever God has in His hands is better than whatever we may have in ours. The second post about confidence regarding the Religion, being confident about being a Muslim. Not being self-depreciating and not internalising the hate that is thrown at us daily.  To stand up and teach our community of our values. The next post will be about self-confidence, about not being fearful of speaking up. The challenge is not necessarily to speak more but to speak when it is right and to speak for what is right.

Not being silent, when someone is being abused whether that is verbally or physically. To defend with words, fully formed words. I am not the most eloquent, I am not an orator and I don’t need to be, but what I do need to be is being able to speak up, when it is needed. To stand up for justice and stop being silent in the face of injustice. What I need to do is is implement the injunction of Allah in my life. I want to be loved by Allah swt. [Surah Maidah: 42]

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah , even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.

[Surah An-Nisa: 135]

Wa Salam,
Abdur-Rahman

Confidence with regards to the Deen

Salam Alaykum,

in an age where people are fed false or inaccurate information through all kinds of media forms it is difficult to decide what is true out there in the sea of misinformation. From the food that we eat, that may or may not contain horse meat to the clothing, that may or may not be manufactured by a small Bangladeshi boy or girl for less than a dollar. We can not be hundred percent certain of what is truly happening behind the scenes as everyone is trying to sell us something. The more important it is for us to hold tight to our values, as people get more and more driven by profit and what seems to best for themselves, regardless of anyone else.

But how do we cling to our values and ethics, when they are unknown to a large majority of us? Imam Abu Hanifah rah. had his students watch him buying and selling he didn’t just teach them the fiqh the jurisprudence of trade but also the ethics of a Muslim Businessman. We have many Muslim Businessmen and women around but do they know anything about Islamic ethics? Or have they also been swept along the capitalist tide towards profit. We have forgotten what it means to be ethical. Where as we actually have more than before have the opportunity to show what Islam has to offer in the work place and in our normal interactions.

We have to become role model no one is perfect and no one asks you to be perfect but we have to make an effort, to take a step and Allah swt. will compensate it. In the last post in this series I talked about having confidence in Allah swt.

In this Post I want to discuss having confidence in our Deen, in Islam. In a post 9/11 world we have become reactionary from issue to issue, event to event. We need to get out of this mind set and be pro-active, we have been hijacked of our confidence in Islam. In knowing that Islam is true, in knowing that Islam contains solutions for our social problems. Whatever Problem we may have today, it’s been dealt with before maybe in a lesser extent but it will most likely have been dealt with once already. Whether it is the problem of Alcohol in Society, from abusive Partners and Parents, to drunk driving or Gambling or Promiscuity etc.

To be Confident that we have the solution if we were to search for it, is a condition of being pro-active. Otherwise we internalise the hate that is thrown at us daily, we begin to hate ourselves and Islam and the Muslims. We are there I think, I see youth my age drifting away not knowing the beauty of Islam, given in to outside voices. Not given enough information to work it out for themselves. Because their parents did not have the confidence and the knowledge to give them the information to satisfy their thirst, to give them the confidence in the Deen.

We have to inform ourselves. Let’s stop listening what others have to say about the Deen, read the Qur’an yourself. Know the Qur’an better than you know your favourite book. This is how we become confident, how we may speak up against those who try to vilify us and those who try to speak in our name. Sheikh Ahmed Deedat, was famous for speaking out in our name. He reprimanded us in a lecture of how “emasculated”, apologetic and self-depreciating we have become.

Let’s stop here, and learn about the Qur’an, the Seerah as well as knowledge from all other sectors. In Islam we do not divide between secular and religious knowledge, (in my opinion) it is knowledge if it brings you closer to Allah swt. and information if it doesn’t. Learn of other Religions and cultures and be assured and confident that Islam provides the best for you.

Wa Salam,

Abdur-Rahman