• Why Coronavirus Pandemic is a Blessing For Believers

    We are in the midst of a dangerous pandemic. In my lifetime, I don’t know of any other situation that has forced the closure of places of worship, schools, workplaces and entire countries. Billions of people’s lives have been affected, and an unprecedented number of people are forced to stay in their homes due to lockdowns. 

    This is certainly a great test for humanity. As Allah subuhanawuta’la says in the Quran: 

    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” (Al-Baqarah, 155)

    Is this test a punishment or a blessing for us?

    When Aisha Radi Allahu Anha asked the Messenger of Allah (SAW) about something similar, Prophet (SAW) said: 

    It (plague) is a punishment that Allah sends upon whomever he wills, but a mercy for the believers. Any servant who resides in a land afflicted by plague, 

    • remaining patient and hoping for a reward from Allah, 
    • knowing that nothing will befall him, but what Allah has decreed, 
    • he will be given the reward of a martyr.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari) 

    So a test can be a punishment or blessing depending on how you respond to it. If that test brings you closer to Allah and makes you a better person, then it is certainly a blessing for you. On the contrary, if your relationship with Allah is getting worse, then it becomes a punishment for you. 

    How do you ensure that these tests and difficulties are your blessings, not a punishment? 

    Utilise them to come closer to Allah subuhanawuta’la. In my humble opinion, the difficulty we are currently facing is undoubtedly a blessing for us in many ways, Alhamdulillah. I’m also confident that this pandemic will change the world permanently in many positive ways. There is an interesting article in Politico that summarises this succinctly. 

    In today’s article, my goal is to show you how you can turn this calamity into a blessing.  

    WELL Framework 

    In Bestversions.me I teach Muslims to become the best version of themselves and provide them with a framework called WELL. WELL stands for Worship, Energy, Love and Legacy. 

    I would like to use the same framework to show you how you can turn this calamity into a blessing. 

    Allah subuhanawuta’la teaches us what our true priorities are through these calamities. Those who learned the lessons know that 

    • coming closer to Allah, 
    • taking care of one’s health, 
    • spending time for the family and 
    • creating a legacy by being beneficial to others are some of our top priorities. 

    And WELL embodies all these priorities. 

    When thinking about becoming a better version, there are so many areas to consider. With WELL framework, I provide a simple but powerful structure to catapult you towards your best version, bi’idnillah. If you are interested in getting to know more about it, please check it here: bestversions.me 


    Such tests are ways for believers to come closer to Allah subuhanawuta’la. It’s out of His immense love, He gives us opportunities to draw closer to Him.

    What is more beneficial to a believer than to come even a “millimetre” closer to his Creator? 

    So use this opportunity and do take stock of your current reality. 

    • How is your relationship with Allah subuhanawuta’la
    • What bad deeds are you going to abandon? (some suggestions: not being dutiful to one’s parents, backbiting, looking at haram things etc.) 
    • What good deeds are you going to increase? (some tips: increase Sunnah prayers, recite more of the Quran, helping others and expecting only Allah’s reward etc.) 
    • What is the one thing that you are doing consistently, even if it is tiny, to draw closer to your Lord? 

    Decide and commit to making a difference in your relationship with Allah subuhanawuta’la. Don’t worry about how small the change is, it’s about being consistent. 

    It is a well known fact that Allah loves consistency as the famous hadith states ‘the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little’ (Sahih Al-Bukhari). 


    This pandemic is a reminder for us to take care of our well-being too. 

    When I went shopping last time, I noticed all the vitamin supplements aisle was literally empty. All of a sudden, people understood that taking care of their well-being is an important thing. (Though I don’t think taking some vitamins supplement is the best way to improve your health 🙂 ) 

    People who take care of themselves by eating healthily, sleeping enough, moving often and de-stressing regularly are less affected by diseases. And in a pandemic like this, it’s kind of an insurance to safeguard yourself, bi’idnillah

    If you don’t take your health seriously, then it’s time that you consider making changes to your lifestyle. 

    The Prophet (SAW) said, “There are two blessings which many people waste: health and free time.” (Sahih Al-Buhari).

    I hope and pray that you won’t be on that list. What one thing you are going to change immediately to improve your health? 

    (If you need my assistance for that, I can certainly help you improve your health, bi’idnillah


    With forced quarantines and lockdowns, a large number of people around the world are being forced to be at home. In fact, I cannot recall any other moment in the recent past that has forced so many people from so many countries to stay or work from home. 

    With that restriction, I see a huge blessing too. We now have more time for our family than ever before. There is no socialising, no shopping, no fun outside and we are being forced to be creative and spend quality time with our loved ones. 

    Think of three ways that you can improve your relationship with your family in this difficult time. Here are a few suggestions from me:

    1. Pray together in congregation at home
    2. Eat together
    3. Exercise together – it’s a fun way to stay connected with your family
    4. Take a small project and involve your family, for example: memorising a part of the Quran
    5. Spend time talking to each other
    6. Switch off your smartphones for at least a few hours of the day while spending time with your family


    Such a challenging situation reminds us that our life in this world is temporary and we may need to leave this world soon. 

    What have we prepared for that journey? What is our legacy we are leaving behind?

    It’s an excellent opportunity to rethink our priorities and start working on our legacy. 

    What is your service to mankind? What are you going to do individually or collectively to help others? What little things can you do to bring a smile on others’ faces? 

    I can’t think of a group of people who don’t need any help at this stage. Everyone needs some help in one or the other way. 

    Think about ways how you can serve others. 

    The Prophet (SAW) said, “The best of people are those that bring most benefit to people” (Daraqutni, Hasan)

  • How Social And Digital News Media Ruin Your Life (Part 2)

    Is the technology you are using extending your mind and expanding your abilities? Or is it breaking up your mind and being an obstacle to achieving the best version of you? In other words, are you the master of your devices, or its slave? In part one of this article, I convinced you how social and news media could ruin your life. The goal of this article is to help you regain your life by minimising the exposure to these two forms of media.

    Just like the internet, social media is a double-edged sword. If you don’t manage it carefully, you’ll end up cutting yourself easily. The unfortunate reality of social media is that it has more harm than good. It has already destroyed millions of peoples’ minds and lives. Moreover, it is, undoubtedly, an obstacle for most people to achieving taqwa (God-consciousness) and to becoming the best version of themselves.

    As I mentioned in my previous article, the overuse of these two forms of media hampers our success in both worlds.

    The distractor of your life

    For the last two years, I’ve been reading and researching a lot about peak performance. The summary of what I’ve learned is this: Peak performance is only attainable if you genuinely guard your focus on the most important goal. 

    However, most people are distracted by insignificant things that drain their focus and energy. For instance, every notification you receive on your smartphone takes away your focus. All those “just checking your smartphone” acts drain your mental energy and focus. The truth is, your smartphone is making you hard to focus on important goals and values in your life.

    A recent survey confirms that a large percentage of people use their smartphones for news, music, watching films and engaging in social media. All these activities do a great job of distracting you from achieving your true potential.

    Your smartphone is the elephant in the room. There aren’t any simple, quick solutions to solving this severe matter. Hence, I like to provide you with a holistic solution that is also sustainable.

    Imagine an onion that has three sets of layers. These layers represent a three-step solution to this burning problem:

    1. The innermost layer of this imaginative onion represents the goals and roles in your life
    2. The middle layer represents your energy
    3. The outermost layer represents your willingness to play offensive with your willpower

    If you are looking for a sustainable solution, then you need to work from the innermost layer. Attempts to change your behaviour just based on the outermost layer will not provide you with a lasting change.

    The innermost layer: goals and roles in your life

    Allah subuhanawuta’la reassurances us in the Quran that there is a purpose behind our creation. He (SWT) says,

    Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that to Us you would not be returned? (Muminoon, 115)

    Hence, Muslim scholars mention three primary purposes for our creation:

    1. Ibadah (worship) – And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me (Az-Zaariyat: 56)
    2. Khilafah (successive authority) – Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority (Baqrah:30)
    3. ‘imara (to develop this earth) – He brought you forth from the earth and hath made you develop it (Hood: 61)

    When these are our purpose of existence, how can we live a life that is void of goals? That is, how can we fulfil these privileged roles that we’ve been given without having meaningful goals?

    Goals give you meaning, a sense of purpose, a feeling of control, and an optimistic outlook on life. They get you fired up and out of bed in the morning. When you lack goals, you’re bored and don’t know what to do or how to spend your time meaningfully.

    However, the reality is, most people don’t have any particular meaningful goals to work on. They are heedless about the real purpose of this life. So, they are joyfully wasting their time on things that don’t provide them with any meaning to their life. 

    People who are serious about their roles and goals in this world would certainly not spend their precious time on things that don’t truly benefit them. On the contrary, they spend all their time and energy, attempting to achieve success in both worlds.

    I can provide reams of research to show why quitting social, and news media is perhaps the best thing for you, but that wouldn’t make any difference to you if you aren’t engaged in a meaningful goal or if you aren’t working on a project that is larger than your life.

    On the other hand, spending your time on these two media while working on your goals is like filling a leaky bucket with water. Not only you are wasting precious resources, but also you are missing the opportunity to fill the bucket.

    A Muslim is someone who has projects and goals to work on to continually improve him or herself. That, in return, helps him achieve real success in this dunya and the akhirah.

    That’s not all. It’ll also make you a happy person. In The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the world’s leading scientist studying wellbeing, says that happy people have projects and goals:

    “In 1932, weighed down by the sorrows and agonies of his self-absorbed and aimless clients, an Australian psychiatrist named W. Béran Wolfe summed up his philosophy like this: ‘If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert.’ He was right. People who strive for something personally significant, whether it’s learning a new craft, changing careers, or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations. Find a happy person, and you will find a project.”

    So, if you want to be truly successful and happy, you better work on your goals. Social and news media are for losers! Or to put it more mildly, it’s for people who don’t have goals yet.

    The middle layer: Maintaining energy

    Most goal-setting gurus talk extensively about the intricate details of goal setting and the execution of it. That’s important, but there is one more critical thing most people fail to mention. It’s about the importance of maintaining one’s energy to achieve those goals.

    When was the last time you completed a task efficiently and productively? Was it when you were tired or when you had a great sleep and felt fully energised?

    Based on what I’ve studied so far, I can pretty convincingly say that 90 per cent of our psychology depends on our physiology. Your body’s wellbeing is directly correlated with your mind’s wellbeing.

    So, if you want to achieve goals, make sure your mind is healthy. Keeping your body energised is the easiest and fastest way to keep your mind healthy.

    The question is, how to energise your body so that you can have a healthy mind and a healthy body?

    That’s what I teach people in my Coaching Programme. Maintaining your physical energy depends primarily on three things: sleep, eat and move.

    However, that’s not all. You have a soul that needs to be energised as well. Salah (prayer), breathing meditation and many other relaxation techniques help you maintaining your energy.

    If you’re a beginner, I would strongly recommend starting to work on your sleep cycle. Sleep is the fountain of energy. If you sleep well, at least 7 hours a day and ideally 8 hours a day, you’ll automatically feel the increased energy in your body.

    After sleep comes nutrition. You are what you eat. Therefore, your food choices play a huge role in keeping you energised. Here are three simple rules to follow:

    1. Hydrate: drink at least 2 litres of water daily. 
    2. Eat food that is closed to its original form (e.g. an apple), and
    3. Avoid foods that are far away from its original form and are highly processed (e.g. an apple pie)

    Last, but not least is your movement. The simple rule of thumb is move as much as you can. Don’t sit or stand for too long. Ideally, you move at least every 30 minutes for a minute or two. If that is not possible, make sure to move at least two minutes every hour.

    The outer layer: Play offensive with your willpower

    Most people play defensive with their willpower. They think they can stop things like reading Facebook feeds when they want, or from eating the big chocolate cake in front of them anytime, they feel like.

    However, if the history is your guide, you know what a lousy defensive player your willpower is.

    Willpower is a finite thing. If you start to use it defensively, you are going to hit the ceiling after a specific time. That’s why it’s essential to play with it offensively.

    Part of playing offensively with your willpower is to create a temptation-free environment. (Just as a side note: Most sharia laws are in this category, such as lowering your gaze, wearing hijab)

    You might be wondering how do I create a temptation-free environment?

    That’s what the rest of the article is all about. These recommendations are tested and tried, and most importantly, there are tons of research to back them up so that they work for you, not against you.

    #1: Unplug from your devices regularly

    What is out of sight is out of mind. One of the reasons why we use our devices so often is that we always keep them visible and nearby. So, simply keeping it out of sight and out of touch, makes it less attractive. If you want to become the master of your device and not its slave, then this step is essential.

    Here is a compelling reason why you should become the master, not the slave of your device.

    The American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America survey found “a startling 86% of adults report being constantly or often connected to their electronic devices.”

    To detox, the APA recommends finding regular times to completely unplug and stay away from all devices. Doing so, the organisation says, “will lower stress, maintain better mental health, and help break the chronic compulsive behaviour many of us have to constantly check in with their electronic devices–reaching for digital stimulation to fill every free moment of downtime.”

    Hence, I strongly recommend you to create periods of device-free time. Here are a few of my own strategies I use daily.  

    • I keep my smartphone out of sight and out of touch. Whether at work or home, my device is both out of sight and out of touch. At work, I keep it in a closet, at home it’s on a shelf, out of my sight.
    • I don’t use my phone for the first two hours of waking up. I want to be creative before I become reactive. I do the most important things first before I switch on my phone.
    • Likewise, two hours before I go to sleep, I switch off my phone. That’s my family time. I don’t want to be distracted with anything else.
    • Whenever I do my deep focused work (such as writing this article), my phone is switched off too.

    #2: Delete all the distracting apps on your device

    Delete all the distracting apps from your device. I don’t have any social media apps on my device, except WhatsApp, which I use sparingly (all notifications are switched off, and I check it twice a day at predetermined times).

    If you have to use any of these social media apps, use it on a larger device (see #4 for more details).

    #3: Restrict your screen time

    We are different, and we have different needs. While I can entirely abandon social and news media, you may have a different need. So what I advocate is, if you can’t entirely quit them, at least restrict their use. Don’t use them unnecessarily and haphazardly. Use them for self-growth and not for self-destruction.

    I consider the newest technology, including the internet and smartphone a blessing. I use them every day to learn, teach and coach people online. However, this blessing can become a curse when we don’t use it appropriately.

    Here are a few things you can do to restrict your screen time.

    Install Freedom software

    How often you had the best of intention to check your Facebook feed for only 5 minutes, then ended up spending 2 hours on it?

    As I said, our willpower is a finite thing. It’s not a great companion– it’s mostly elusive when you need it the most. That’s why I’m such a big fan of Freedom software. This software helps you to control your surfing by your predetermined standards.

    You can either block the unwanted sites forever on all your devices or restrict the minutes you want to spend on a particular website. It’s one of the best tools I’ve ever bought to decrease my distraction and to increase my productivity.

    I have a paid version of it, but most people can survive with a free version too. Here’s the link to Freedom.

    Use the Screen Time on your iPhone

    Screentime functionality is somewhat similar to Freedom software. You can combine both if you want to restrict your screen time further.

    Android Users can install the Digital Wellbeing app for the same purpose.

    Breaking the “bottomless surfing” cycle

    You may have heard the term “bottomless” surfing, which refers to the endless newsfeed on Facebook or the autoplay on YouTube.

    I’m sure; you are familiar with one of these scenarios:

    • You go to your Facebook account to post something, but end up reading the newsfeed for the next 30 minutes.
    • Likewise, you want to watch a 5-minute video on YouTube, but end up watching a video on for 2 hours.

    The techno giants such as Facebook and Google wants to keep you hooked to their site and for as long as possible. The longer you’re using their services, the more money they make (e.g., by showing you ads )

    Therefore, bottomless surfing is designed to keep you hooked to their services.

    The following two chrome extensions can be of great benefit to disabling the newsfeed on Facebook and recommended videos on YouTube.

    #4: Surf at predetermined times on a larger screen

    If you must use these media, use them at predetermined times. It would help if you decided when you want to use it and how long you want to use it.

    Software such as Freedom or Screen time/Digital Wellbeing (as discussed before) will be beneficial for you to do these steps.

    If you need to use one of these media, use them on a larger screen, such as on a computer or laptop. Amy Cuddy, a psychologist, mentions fascinating research in her book Presence, how this is advantageous to you.

    Scientists brought three different groups into a lab. All three groups received the same assignment but on three different devices. One group was asked to do it on a large desktop computer, the second one on a tablet-sized device and the third group on a smartphone.

    And the result? Amy says: “We concluded that the smaller the device, the more we must contract our bodies to use it, and the more time we spend in these shrunken, inward postures, the more powerless we feel.”

    Ultimately, this contraction and feeling of powerlessness undermine our productivity and efficiency.

    Books and Resources

    This article gives you some food for thoughts and should help to kick-start your journey towards a productive life.

    If you want to dig deep and truly understand the intricate details of what social media and our hyper-connected devices do to us, I highly recommend you to check these books. They certainly helped me a lot to win at my work and my life, Alhamdulillah!


    If you are iPhone user, this guide will be immensely beneficial to you. It details how to configure your iPhone to work for you, not against you.

    It’s a long read, but worth it. 

    Invest your one and only life wisely

    I’ve spent much time writing this article. That’s because I care about you and your life. You are more capable than you think you are. Hence, I invite you to come out of your comfort zone and live up to your fullest potential. Your one and only life is the single capital you possess to succeed in the aakhira (Hereafter), so invest it wisely in this world.

    My job as a coach is to help you establish the fundamentals you need to live up to your fullest potential. Working on your fundamentals help you to transform your body so that you can transform your life.

    Are you ready to join the transformation?

    Join the presale list and save up to 42% off the regular cost.

    Presale List

  • How Social And Digital News Media Ruin Your Life

    We live in a world of perpetual consumption. We consume more food and more resources than any other generation in human history. In that process of overconsuming things, we ruin our body. However, our bodies aren’t the only thing that we’ve ruined; we’ve also fogged and burdened our brains with social and news media. The goal of this article is to make you understand the danger of these two forms of media and to provide some guidelines to reduce the overconsumption.

    Every Ramadan, out of His Endless Mercy, Allah subuhanawuta’la grants us an excellent opportunity to become a better person.

    Allah has designated this month solely for this reason, as He says: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed upon those before you so that you may attain taqwa (God-consciousness).” (Al-Quran, 2:183)

    Part of attaining taqwa requires you to abandon certain worldly pleasures, such as eating, drinking, and having intimacy during a fixed time. Alhamdulillah, a large group of Muslims stick to these guidelines and do fast the whole month.

    There are, however, certain other pleasures that aren’t haram (prohibited) per se, but these pleasures aren’t helping you to increase your taqwa. As the title of my article suggests, I’m, indeed, talking about social and digital media consumption.

    What these media do to your brain

    To understand why the overconsumption of digital and social news media is harmful to you, we need first to understand the science behind it.

    Dopamine is the pleasure neurotransmitter that emanates from your forebrain. This neurotransmitter is responsible for your “this-feels-good-I-want-more” feeling. So, whenever you feel compelled to eat another piece of cake, despite knowing that you’re full, know that dopamine does play a role in that desire.

    However, dopamine isn’t restricted to your eating habits. It also governs how you engage with your computer or smartphone.

    When we pull out our smartphones often or check our social and news feed 35’000 times a year (yes, an average person checks it so often), our brain releases a little bit of that dopamine in the forebrain. So be aware, every time you pull out your phone to check your social media or news feed, you’re activating dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for pleasure.

    Before you decide that pleasure is a good thing, you need to know the difference between pleasure and happiness.

    Pleasure is the feeling that this “feels good; I want more”. It’s usually short-lived and mostly experienced alone. The extremes of pleasure lead you to addiction. This explains, why sugar, cocaine and slot machines are addictive. They give you the short-lived pleasure, but going extreme with those things lead you to addiction.

    However, happiness is the feeling of “this feels good I don’t want or need anymore.” So happiness is something that helps you to achieve contentment. It’s usually long-lived and experienced mostly in social setups or groups. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that plays a role in making you happy.

    Can I have more of that, please? Understanding the Hedonic Treadmill

    Also, as you’ve probably experienced, pleasure results in the desire for more pleasure, or what psychologist refer to as the hedonic treadmill. The hedonic treadmill is the “adaption” to certain forms of pleasure that eventually cause you to seek even more intense and higher doses of pleasure. Dr Catherine A. Sanderson, a psychologist, gives an example of the hedonic treadmill effect:

    “One reason why more money doesn’t bring us the lasting happiness we expect is that we adapt to our newfound wealth. Initially, it is great to have some extra money, but over time we simply adapt to this higher level of income or an unexpected windfall, and thus it no longer leads to greater happiness” (198-199).

    This hedonic adaptation happens with your social and news media consumption too. The more often you check, the more you want to continue checking the feeds. Your brain wants more of that pleasure, and it’s never satiated. This explains why you check your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/You-Name-It-Social-Media feeds so often, despite no urgency to check. Moreover, this eventually leads to social and news media addiction.

    That’s not all. Dopamine process also inhibits us from finding periods of focus or reflection where we need to do the necessary deep thinking.

    So how do we break from this vicious cycle?

    Here is my suggestion:

    While we strive to attain forgiveness, a purified heart and a greater awareness of Islam during the fasting time, I think there is one more thing we need to fast from: social and news media.

    The Digital Fast

    So, what is digital fasting? I’ve coined this term to describe “fasting”, i.e. abstaining from social and digital news media.

    I’ve been doing this fast for more than a year now and feel amazing without those constant inputs and distractions. Now, you don’t need to fast as long as I do. All I suggest is to skip your social and news media consumption at least in the month of Ramadan.

    Notice how you feel without those social and digital news media for a week or two and then decide whether or not you want to continue your fast or go digital minimalism, Cal Newport style.

    So, if you are committed to doing this digital fast, then you are simply saying no to all social (things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.) and digital news media (i.e., CNN, BBC, Aljazeera, and your local news channel .)

    We consume too much of these two, and most of us are not at all aware of their impact on our mind. The truth is, your mind is the most expensive real estate in the world. Consequently, you should be very careful about whom you let in and what you want to build on it.

    So what better time to try this challenge than in the month of Ramadan? Allah’s making it easy for you to attain your personal goals by chaining up the shayateen and by granting you a temptation-free playing field to become a better Muslim.

    Though I can provide you 100s of reasons why you should abstain from these media, in the interest of brevity, I’ll mention four. And all of them are backed by science and/or Islam.

    Abstaining from these media or at least minimising its consumption is not only healthy for your mind and body but more importantly, it will save you from ruining your Dunya (present life) and Aakhira (afterlife).

    Here are my four significant reasons:

    1. Wasting Time

    According to a report from Globalwebindex.com, an average person spends daily 2 hours and 11 minutes on social media alone.

    As for digital news media, the estimates are around 40 mins a day. Therefore, in total, we spend more than 3 hours on digital and social media daily.

    Now, I don’t need to preach to you why wasting time is terrible for your Dunya (present life) and Aakhira (afterlife). You are probably aware of its dangers. Recall, your legs won’t move on the day of Judgement until you are questioned about these five things.

    It was narrated from Ibn Mas’ood that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The son of Adam will not be dismissed from before his Lord on the Day of Resurrection until he has been questioned about five things:
    1. his life and how he spent it,
    2. his youth and how he used it,
    3. his wealth and how he earned it and
    4. how he disposed of it, and
    5. how he acted upon what he acquired of knowledge.”

    (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2422; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1969)

    This warning alone should be a major concern for any Muslim.

    Nevertheless, the most significant danger of wasting time is that you’re also missing an opportunity to do a good deed at that time.

    2. It’s bad for your mood (and brain)

    In the last 4-5 years, scientists have been digging deep to see whether or not social media is helping or hurting us.

    In the excellent book, The Power of Agency, the authors provide some startling statistics. Here it is, in their own words:

    “Has the time come for warnings to accompany the use of media, particularly social media? Is there unhealthy or unsafe exposure or dangerous doses so to speak?

    On the surface, this may sound preposterous, but as you read these research findings below, ask yourself if you might rethink your exposure to media and start controlling it for yourself.

    • A study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research found that the closer you are to your (turned off) smartphone, the more it acts like mental kryptonite. Simply keeping it anywhere near you distracts you and can lessen your capacity to think.
    • The more time people spent on Facebook, the worse they felt and the less satisfied they were with their lives, according to University of Michigan researchers in a 2013 article for PLOS ONE.
    • People watching news coverage of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing reported higher acute stress two to four weeks after the tragedy than people who had direct exposure to the events at or near the bombings, according to researchers in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of United States of America (PNAS) journal.”

    In the Upside of Stress Kelly McGonigal referenced the same study and put it this way:

    “Stress caused by the news, as opposed to stress caused by your life, is unique in its ability to trigger a sense of hopelessness. Watching TV news after a natural disaster or terrorist attack has consistently been shown to increase the risk of developing depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. One shocking study found that people who watched six or more hours of news about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing were more likely to develop post-traumatic stress symptoms than people who were actually at the bombing and personally affected by it. It’s not just traditional news programs that instil fear and hopelessness; stories of tragedy, trauma, and threats dominate many forms of media. In fact, a 2014 study of US adults found that the single best predictor of people’s fear and anxiety was how much time they spent watching TV talk shows.”

    Likewise, psychologist Dr Catherine A. Sandsberg cites countless studies in her book The Positive Shift that support the idea that the increased use of social and digital media also results in increased “rates of loneliness and depression.”

    3. Hard to focus on the essential things

    One of the biggest danger of spending time on social and digital media is that you continually find it harder to focus on anything.

    Since you are distracted by all these inputs, you find it difficult to focus on the essential things in life.

    And if you think, you can focus on essential things, despite being distracted by these media, then I want you to read this research from Clifford Nass, who was a computer science and communications professor at Stanford. He led many research studies in his lab. He was able to prove just how much our ability to focus is hindered by being distracted.

    He would bring people in, and he would give them tasks, and he would say, “I want you to focus in on this for the next 15 or 20 minutes”. Guess what, most people just couldn’t stay on the given task.

    After collecting the relevant data points, Nass would interview the participants, and they would tell him, “hey, no, I felt like I was really focused.” However, in reality, they just weren’t. They felt like they were more focused than their standard state of hyper distraction. Though, ultimately, the data points showed that they had a tough time filtering out the difference between relevant and irrelevant information.

    Nass passed away in 2013. In one of his last public appearances, he gave a beautiful TED Talk. It’s full of gems about everything you need to know about the dangers of social media consumption and multitasking. Here’s the Talk:

    4. Your solitude is lost

    In Lead Yourself First, the authors define solitude as this: “It is the state of mind where the mind focuses on its own thoughts, free of distraction.” Put it in another way, solitude is freedom from the input from other minds.

    The authors of this incredibly important book argue that we humans have lost this solitude due to the constant information we consume from social and news media. This avalanche of information leads our brain to process up to six times more than it did just in the 1980s. An extremely taxing and energy-consuming task for a less beneficial and less productive job.

    Before this “information age” aka “input age”, we naturally found solitude anytime we were physically alone when we were walking from one place to another, or while standing in line.

    Now with our hyper-connected digital devices, we have genuinely lost this solitude. Our brain is constantly bombarded with information and input, and we find hardly any free time to be with our own thoughts.

    Losing your solitude is indeed a big deal. Because losing your solitude means, you are losing your ability to be creative, to be reflective and to think with clarity.

    In 100s of verses (according to some scholars, close to 750 places in the Quran) Allah subuhanawuta’la encourages Muslims to think, study and to ponder over the creation and life itself. Are we doing justice to these verses? When was the last time you took time to think? To ponder over things?

    Join the Club

    Why don’t you consider doing a digital fast for at least the next seven days? Experiment with it and see how you feel. If you think, digital fast is not helping you to become a better person; then you can always go back to your old ways.

    I hope you’ll take up this challenge to transform your life to the next level.
    Insha Allah, in Part 2 of this article, I’ll talk about guidelines to reduce the overconsumption of this media.

    Until then, wish you pleasant digital fasting 🙂

  • How to Instantly Achieve Calmness and Increase Your Energy

    We often want to achieve a lot while doing very little work, and this usually happens by looking for some shortcuts. Though I’m not a fan of shortcuts, as there are rarely any shortcuts to success, what I’m going to discuss today is an exception. There is indeed a scientifically verified shortcut that will help you to achieve instant calmness and which will increase your energy. This hack will also optimise your health. So, what’s that shortcut? Taking some simple breaths!

    There’s something that you can’t live without. Yes, you may last for weeks without food, days without water, but what you truly can’t live without is oxygen. You can only last a few minutes without oxygen. However, humans rarely appreciate this automatic act. Breathing is taken for granted and that’s why we hardly ever stop to think about the importance of it.

    If you’ve been reading my articles, you know that I often talk about four fundamentals for a Lean & Healthy life; these fundamentals are praying, eating, moving and sleeping. Nevertheless, knowing what I know now, breathing is definitely on top of my list.

    So, get ready to discover the most undervalued, underappreciated fundamental of all fundamentals: breathing!

    Oxygen = Cell fuel

    “What if I said I had a medicine that would keep you calm but alert? That would relax and energize you? That would help you recover, boost your immune system, lower the oxidative stress that causes ageing, power you up, and fuel every cell in your body, from your frazzled brain to your taxed muscles? You’d say, ‘Give it to me,’ right? Well, here it is. And no side effects. Take it every day—doctor’s orders” (Vranich, 01).

    Dr Belisa Vranich, a leading clinical psychologist and one of the world’s leading experts on how to breathe talks about the importance of breathing in her ground-breaking book Breathe!

    In her book, Vranich emphasizes that oxygen equals cell fuel.  Quoting Dr Arthur Guyon’s research, Vranich writes, “all chronic pain, suffering, and disease are caused by a lack of oxygen at the cell level . . . Proper breathing nourishes the cells of the body with oxygen, and optimizes the functioning of the body on all levels” 

    The importance of oxygen stretches far beyond your imagination. Take your brain for instance. Your brain utilizes 20% of the oxygen, you breathe. This means that your productivity, memory power, decision-making ability and mental health all depend highly on the oxygen you inhale.

    Let that sink in for a minute.

    So, if you’re not breathing properly you’re simply not performing optimally. Full stop.

    So, finding it difficult to focus? Breathe properly. Finding it difficult to make a decision? Breathe properly. Feeling anxious and stressed out? Breathe properly. Annoyed with a loved one? Breathe properly.

    Does breathing properly sounds like a panacea? To some extent it is! Don’t take my word for it. Listen to what Dr Kelly McGonigal says in her book, The Willpower Instinct:

    “You won’t find many quick fixes in this book, but there is one way to immediately boost willpower: Slow your breathing down to four to six breaths per minute. That’s ten to fifteen seconds per breath—slower than you normally breathe, but not difficult with a little bit of practice and patience. Slowing the breath down activates the prefrontal cortex and increases heart rate variability, which helps shift the brain and body from a state of stress to self-control mode. A few minutes of this technique will make you feel calm, in control, and capable of handling cravings or challenges”.

    The Art of Slow Breathing

    Now, science is unequivocal about this. If you want to breathe properly, breathe less! Yes, just like overeating is unhealthy for you, over breathing is unhealthy for you too.

    My job as a coach is to simplify the science so that you can take immediate action. Here are three simple rules to remember to breathe less.

    Rule #1: Breathe through your nose

    Now, this may sound obvious, but the fact is most people, unbeknownst to them, inhale through their mouth. Breathing through your mouth, in general, is bad for you (except for when you’re running hard from a dog chasing you 🙂

    According to Dr Vranich, “Mouth breathing can also disrupt the pH balance of the blood, making it too alkaline. Alkalosis can lead to feelings of apprehension, anxiety, and chronic pain conditions.

    Nose breathing, on the other hand, has its own benefits, including increases of CO2 saturation in the blood, which creates a calming effect”.

    So, what’s the easiest way to breathe through your nose? Keep your mouth shut.

    Allah (SWT)created your mouth to eat and talk and your nose to breathe and smell. And there is wisdom in each of Allah’s creation. Science now says that when you breathe through your nose, the air you inhale will be filtered and humidified. This means that there are fewer chances for harmful pathogens to enter into your body.

    Rule #2: Breathe into your belly

    When you take deep breaths through your nose, you’ll eventually breathe into your belly. Here is a simple way to check whether or not you are breathing into your ageing. Keep your right hand on the belly and take a deep breath through your nose (while keeping your mouth shut). Is your belly expanding while breathing? If the answer is yes, then you’re doing it right.

    Check out this video from Dr Vranich on the correct way to breathe in.

    Rule #3: Exhale slightly longer than you inhale

    When you exhale slightly longer than you inhale, you are in fact turning on your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you to relax.

    But exhaling has another extremely important function. Your exhaling is responsible for 70% of your body’s detoxification! That’s right, if you are not correctly exhaling, you are not detoxifying correctly. Squeezing out the air out of your diaphragm also means that you’re detoxifying your body. Subhanallah, what an inexpensive way to detoxify!

    5+2+7 = Magic

    Now here is a simple way to implement all these three rules easily.

    What does 5, 2 and 7 stands for? They stand for seconds.

    1. Inhale for 5 seconds (obviously through your nose),
    2. Hold your breath for 2 seconds and
    3. Exhale (again through your nose) for 7 seconds
    4. Repeat these steps 5 times

    The instant calm and increased energy I talked about is just achieved through this simple exercise. All it takes is just a minute, you can do this anywhere, and anytime you like.

    Here is how I use it:

    • Just after waking up
    • Before going to sleep
    • Before my nap
    • Before I start to write
    • Before I start to do any productive work
    • When I feel annoyed
    • When I find it difficult to focus
    • When I feel anxious and stressed out
    • When my kids push me to my limits 🙂

    As you see, you can use this simple technique in many areas throughout your day. The more you use it, the better you become at this technique and the better you’ll feel throughout your day, bi’idnillah!

    Increase Your Gains Exponentially

    If you want to increase your gains exponentially, do this breathing technique along with sending Salawath upon the Prophet Muhammed (SAW).

    Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) saying: “Whoever supplicates Allah to exalt my mention (i.e., send salah), Allah will exalt his mention (i.e., send salah) ten times and remove from him ten sins and raise him ten degrees.” (Muslim)

    Just imagine what will truly happen to you when Allah Himself sends blessings upon you.

    Something to Reflect

    Recently, I was in a high-stakes meeting. Just before the meeting, I was very nervous, so I decided to make this breathing technique and eventually spent time on sending Salawath upon the Prophet Muhammed (SAW).

    After the meeting, one of the high-ranking officers asked me how I managed to be so calm despite being scrutinized by four people with endless questions. My answer was just a smile; I didn’t want to explain to him what I had prepared beforehand 🙂

    My point in sharing this story is that you can always make an act that’s beneficial to you a good deed by incorporating aspects of the Deen. So the next time you feel stressed out or tired, remember the steps that I mentioned and try the breathing exercise. It will definitely change your mood.

  • How to Commit Yourself to a Lifelong Commitment

    Whether you want to get into the best shape of your life, be the greatest spouse, raise amazing kids or even just achieve financial freedom, you need to commit to making it happen. So success in any field requires you to commit yourselves to a set of commitments. In this article, I’ll reveal the science of commitments and give you simple strategies to succeed in every area of your life.

    You’ll most probably agree with me when I say that without consistent commitments, you won’t achieve anything meaningful in your life.

    The successful person in any field stands out because he/she is committed to what they do.

    Now as a Muslim, you know the importance of commitment more than anyone else. The Ultimate Success, i.e., Jannathul Firdous, is only attainable if you’re committed to becoming a good, God-conscious Muslim who stays away from prohibited things and constantly strives to do good deeds.

    So, your true success in both worlds very much depends on the consistent commitments you make daily. It’s not something that you choose to do on a yearly or monthly basis; rather it’s something that you commit to do on a daily basis!

    In a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra), the Prophet (PBUH) says, “Take on only as much as you can do of good deeds, for the best deeds is that which is done consistently, even if it is little” (Sunan ibn Majah).

    Well, if you’re wondering what the ingredients of consistent commitment are, here they are!

    The Commitment Equation

    Here’s the equation for real success: (Desire + Action) x Consistency = Commitment

    Ok, let me explain this with a simple example: as a reader of my blog, you are most probably looking for ways to improve your health and increase your energy. You might also be looking to achieve the best shape of your life.

    Let’s say that you’re ready to commit yourself to achieving the best shape of your life so that you can be the best in what you do with increased confidence.

    You have the desire to achieve that lean & healthy body that you’ve always wanted. Now, needless to say, just with this desire, you’ll never achieve the body you want. You also need to put the right efforts to make it happen. And you need to work on it on a consistent basis.

    So, commitment means, you are willing to put the work consistently to achieve the desired outcome.

    Ok, let’s jump into the details of each component!

    Desire: Do You REALLY Want It?

    Now, before you commit yourself to anything, the question you should ask yourself is this: “Do I REALLY want it? Do I have a burning desire to achieve this outcome?”

    Here’s the thing, if you want your commitment to be strong, you need a strong desire too. Your level of desire matches your level of commitment.

    Here are two steps you can take to increase your desire to commit:

    1. Find the true purpose of your commitment. Going back to the previous example, what is the purpose of getting into the best shape of your life? In a previous article, I explained how you could find out your true purpose using a 5-why system. Please read part 1 and part 2 of this system to understand it well.
    2. Ask yourself the following question: What’s the immediate gratification that I get when I commit to ……. (fill in the blanks)?
      For instance, I’m very committed to working out every day. Coupled with my strong purpose and the immediate gratification of “feeling good” and “more energy” drives me to exercise regardless of where I am!

    Now, you can apply this to any area of your life. Let’s talk about raising kids. My real purpose of raising obedient, God-fearing kids is to make them role models for others. So, my kids become an ideal investment for my Aakhira.

    All that sounds good, but what’s the immediate gratification I get by raising obedient, God-fearing kids? I have a peaceful, serene home! And that’s priceless for any parent!

    Here’s a little comparison for you to understand this more deeply. True purpose can be compared to a “long-term” goal. The immediate gratification is a tiny reward you get to pursue your “long-term” goal. It’s the fuel you need to drive to reach your real purpose.

    Great, now that you’ve set a “burning desire”, let’s move on to the action part; that’s where the magic happens!

    Action: One Bite at a Time

    How do you eat an elephant? (ok, I get it… it’s haram to eat elephants. But what about a huge whale? Have you got any appetite for that? :-))

    You probably know the answer. One bite at a time. While this wisdom is prevalent, we are stuck when it comes to implementation.

    We have grandiose goals, and they stay grandiose forever because we are too afraid to take the first “bite”!

    So, at first, any goal or commitment might look huge and most probably impossible to achieve. But, if you were to break down these goals or commitments into smaller, doable chunks, it becomes much easier to achieve them. (Here’s a secret: This is how I coach my clients to achieve astounding results through my six months Online Coaching Programme)

    Let me give you an example: in the 1950s, Roger Bannister had an “impossible” goal. He wanted to run a mile under 4 minutes. This may sound simple now, but until 1954, no one in the history of humankind ever achieved it. Every smart person before 1950 said that it’s ‘humanly impossible’ to run a mile in less than four minutes because many had tried it before, but no one ever even got close to achieving this goal.

    However, Roger Bannister did break through this seemingly impossible task. And how did he do it?

    He broke his goal into small bite-size, doable pieces and honed his practice by committing to do it almost on a daily basis.

    • First, he trained until he could run a quarter mile under a minute.
    • Next, he trained until he could run half a mile in two minutes.
    • Then, he trained until he could run three-quarters of a mile in three minutes.
    • Lastly, he trained until he thought he could run the full mile in less than four minutes.

    So, regardless of how big your goal or the commitment is, you can break it into smaller, doable chunks to overcome the barrier of inaction.

    Let’s say; you want to exercise daily for 30 minutes. If you’ve never exercised before, this may be very daunting. What if you break this goal into small chunks, that you’ve no excuse not to do it? Starting with “2 pushups a day”, “2 minutes of exercise a day” or anything small enough to get started.

    Just Do It

    In the great book, A Mind for Numbers, Barbara Oakley talks about procrastination and shares an interesting study.

    The researchers took students who hated doing math and scanned their brains. The researchers saw that the students’ pain centres would light up as they contemplated having to do math.

    But here’s the deal.

    Those pain centres turned off the moment when the students actually started doing the math.

    It was the anticipation that was painful. And doing the math? Not so much.

    So the “pain” of doing something is much lesser than the pain of waiting (or anticipating). It’s the anticipation of doing something that’s getting you stressed out. So, don’t wait long, just jump in and do it as Nike suggests :-)!

    Consistency: The Foundation of Success

    The last but the most important component of commitment is consistency. I call this step the foundation of success.

    Just having a burning desire and working on that commitment won’t bring any success if you aren’t consistent.

    If all you can do is just 5 minutes of exercise a day, and you do it daily, that’s certainly better than an hour workout once a week.

    The best human being (PBUH), who ever worked on the earth said, “The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it is small (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)

    So, whether you are committing to do something for the success of this Dunya or the Aakhira, the most important component is consistency!

    Implement the Good Because You Deserve the Best

    Remember the Hadith of the Beloved (PBUH) as you set your goals and work towards them because everything good must become part of your routine in order for it to really “stick” with you forever. And once it sticks…, well then you’re that much closer to your goal!

  • 3 Ways How Transforming Your Body Impacts Your Life Positively

    “Is it really worth it?”. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight and get into shape, then this is something that you’ve most likely asked yourself. In this article, I talk about three ways how transforming your body impacts your life positively. I use Islam and science to show you why you should invest in your body.

    Every morning, I reflect on the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon my life. And undoubtedly, the biggest blessing of all is that He has gifted me with Islam.

    Alhamdulillah, being a Muslim means that I have been given simple and clear divine instructions through the Quran and the Sunnah to lead an abundant life. I’m not left to my own devices so that I have to figure out what the “true purpose” of life is or how to lead a meaningful life because I already know through the Quran and Sunnah what a good life is and looks like.

    On that note, the following hadith is one of my favourite hadiths because it lays down in a succinct manner what my priorities should be and how I can live as Prophet (SAW) said, Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.– Shu’ab al-Imān 9575, Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani.

    Well, what about you? When you think about how you can be successful, do you use these five factors to your benefit? Do your actions show that your biggest priority in this life is to prepare yourself for the Afterlife? And there can be nothing more important than entering the Highest Paradise, right? After all, the Prophet (SAW) said: 

    “In Paradise, there are a hundred levels, what is between every two levels is like what is between the heavens and the earth. Al Firdaus is the highest level, and from it, the four rivers of Paradise are made to flow forth. So when you ask Allah, ask Him for Al-Firdaus.” -Jami at-Tirmidhi 2531, Sahih (authentic).

    If you want to achieve this goal, then you need to work on two things: health and wasting time. That’s why Prophet (SAW) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.” – Sahih al-Bukhari 6412. So, if you really want to maximise your life, then you need to reflect on how you use these two blessings.

    How Improving My Health Was a Game Changer

    When I was overweight, sick and deprived of energy, I was leading a mediocre life. Though I was constantly trying to improve my life, my overweight body wasn’t very helpful in getting the results I wanted. Most importantly, I had very low-energy to be consistent with anything.

    However, things started to change dramatically, when I finally learned to eat healthily. Healthy eating coupled with exercise and deep sleep helped me lose my excess weight. I was also stronger and energised.

    And that newly-won energy in my life was a catalyst for a long list of achievements in my life, alhamdulillah! Now as nutrition and exercise coach, I see the same pattern in my clients too.

    I’ve helped countless people in more than 30 countries around the world to achieve the best shape of their lives while improving their health and energy levels. Transforming their bodies inevitably transformed many aspects of their lives. Specifically, I’ve noticed three particular characteristics that emerge from my clients when they go through this body transformation:

    #1. Increased Energy

    This is perhaps the biggest win for most of my clients.

    To level up your life so that you can achieve success in this world and the Aakhira, you first need to harness your energy levels.

    The truth is, there’s no real way for you to manage your time wisely; you can, however, manage the tasks you complete during a given time. And managing your tasks invariably depends on your energy level. So, if you’re energised throughout the day and if you use this energy to your advantage, you’ll achieve the success that you’ve always dreamt of, bi’idnillah!

    That being said, here are five practical tips to maintain an increased energy level throughout the day:

    1. Improve your khushu (focus) in your prayers. You should also increase the amount of dhikr you do throughout the day.
    2. Eat nutritious foods at every meal and make sure to include plenty of vegetables, protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. You are what you eat. So there is a lot of truth to this saying, as the food you eat has a humongous impact on your mind and body.
    3. Exercise intelligently at least 4-5 times a week. By intelligently, I mean really use this time to lift and sweat. And do it in the morning hours!
    4. Sleep at least 7 hours and include a short-nap during the afternoon. In particular, at 1-3 pm every day.
    5. Drink plenty of water. Hydration plays an incredibly important role in managing your energy level. So, drink at least eight glasses of water.

    #2. Increased Confidence

    Because I’m a fitness and nutrition coach, I love seeing my clients succeed in all areas of their life, especially mentally! That’s why I’ve read plenty of books on how to boost self-esteem. There are lots of theories how to do it, but what helped me most in my life was when I achieved the best shape of my life. I went from fat to fit! The experience I gained from my unbelievable body transformation made me believe that I can achieve anything I want in my life if I follow an already trodden and well-founded path, bi’idnillah!

    I’ve noticed this pattern repeatedly in my clients too. Just a few days back, one of my clients, who lost around 20 kg of weight following my Lean & Healthy coaching Programme, wrote this to me:

    “Also I was invited to speak at an investment forum (….), and I accepted – this is partly down to my new found confidence to get on stage and do this. 

    Thanks so much Rushdie, May ALLAH Bless everything you do brother. You are doing amazing work for the Muslim Ummah.”

    As you probably know, anything worthwhile happens just out of your comfort zone. The boost in your self-confidence helps you to dare to step out outside of your comfort zone and try new things. Or more importantly, tackle your existing challenges in a different way. And that’s the first step towards an abundant life!

    #3. Increased Engagement in Personal Development

    Many people are passive spectators in their lives. They go to work every day, come home, sleep and repeat this routine for the rest of their lives. While this fixed routine helps them to live a decent life, it doesn’t really entice them to live an abundant one. One that’s rich, vibrant, and full of potential!

    However, there are many other people who are very active in what they want in their lives. They aren’t spectators; instead, they make things happen. That’s because they dare to disrupt their routine to make it better and worthwhile. They’re poised to improve their lives, and they plan to make sure their tomorrows are better than their todays. They also work hard to make their todays better than their yesterdays. And yes, this shift in their mentality helps them improve in every area of their lives.

    These are the people who constantly develop themselves so that they can be a better parent, spouse, employees, employer and most importantly a better slave of Allah subuhanawuta’la. So, these are the people who have an increased engagement in personal and spiritual development.

    Most of my clients report to me how transforming their body helped them to increase their engagement in personal and spiritual development. Some of my clients even reported to me how their behaviour changed towards their children, and how less annoyed or angry they felt when talking to others.

    This may sound very strange, but the truth is, when you start to implement a strategic system in order to achieve better health or to lose weight, you also end up transforming other areas of your life, knowingly or unknowingly.

    Maximising the Mind-Body Connection and Achieve Your Goals

    The first reason that you change other areas of your life is because of the mind-body connection. Your mind and body are interconnected: any positive (or negative) change in your body will be an improvement (or setback) in your mental state. So, as cliché, as it may sound, when you attempt to transform your body, you transform your mind and in that process transform your life forever!

    The second reason is linked to this mind-body connection: any positive type of discipline or regiment that you incorporate into your life requires some willpower, a change of mindset, and, of course, positivity. So, when you start working out or eating healthily, you make this connection stronger because you’re working towards a goal.

    So, anyone who tells you that your weight loss and fitness goals are superficial hasn’t truly learned or experienced how exercising and eating right can make you mentally fit, resilient, and positive! And yes, these are noble goals to have that you should keep working toward. Remember, great health isn’t a one-stop affair; it’s a lifestyle!

  • What to Do When You’re Stuck

    You keep repeating the same things over and over again without seeing any results; nothing seems to be changing in regards to your Deen, personal life and health. So, what should you do?

    Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” As cliché as this quote has become, it still holds a lot of weight in our lives.

    That’s because we’ve gotten used to a certain way of living our lives; whether it’s neglecting certain aspects of our Deen and expecting to feel spiritually fulfilled, or whether it’s being unaware of why we can’t seem to accomplish our health and fitness goals.

    The Foundation to a Better Version of Yourself

    My new free video series “3 Fundamentals for Achieving the Best Version of You”addresses these and other issues. This series will only be available for a limited time.

    This video series will also help you

    • Understand why the Deen requires you to be aware of your habits
    • Uncover the psychological dimension to habits because habits don’t arise from a vacuum; they’re repeated actions we’ve learned over time
    • Recognise situations or emotions that trigger good or bad habits, and
    • Change your habits so that you can transform your life

    Reclaiming Your Life

    3 Fundamentals” is about taking charge of your health and fitness goals! There’s no reason to suffer from illnesses like diabetes and heart complications when you can prevent or change your outcome through nutrition and exercise. You also no longer need to hide your body and suffer from low self-esteem.

    But “3 Fundamentals” isn’t just about health and fitness. I’ll show you how what you’ll learn applies to every aspect of your life.

    So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start your journey.

  • 7 Things Successful Muslims Do Every Morning!

    We’re often amazed by the incredible amount of work successful people get done. One of the secrets behind their success lies in their morning routines. This article lists the 7 most impactful routines you can incorporate into your life so that you are successful.

    The Quran and the Sunnah provide us with Divine and practical guidance in all areas of our lives. When we purify our intentions, implement this guidance and work hard, we will, inshaAllah, achieve success in this world as well as the Aakhira.

    There is no doubt that the true success comes from Allah subuhanawuta’ala; who else, besides Him, can guide you to success?

    An example of this beautiful guidance is from the following sahih hadith:

    “O Allah, bless my nation in their early mornings.” (Sunan ibn Majah)

    Waking up early means that you are getting a portion of this incredible blessing (barakah)! This is also why in the Quran, we are frequently told to make adkhar in the mornings.

    So, as a part of the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (PBUH), we are encouraged to wake up early and to make use of these hours. 
We also know that following the Sunnah will benefit us in both worlds.

    Morning routines: what researchers are saying

    Recent scientific studies also confirm the benefits in having morning routines. But what, specifically, have researchers found?

    • Some of these studies have shown that morning people exhibit character traits like optimism, being agreeable, satisfaction and diligence. Night owls, while linked with creativity and intelligence, are more likely to exhibit traits like depression, pessimism and anxiety.
    • Research conducted by Texas University found that students who consistently woke up early each day actually earned better test scores and overall grade points in comparison to those who frequently slept in.
    • In another study, researchers found that early risers are proactive. This also means that they’re more eager to achieve something in their lives.

    What you can do to make the most of your mornings

    One of the best ways to improve your health is by spending the first 2-3 hours of your day quietly. Begin your day in a stress-free manner. We all know how much stress people go through when they wake up late to work.

    If you are poised to achieve success in both worlds, here are 7 things you can do within the first 2-3 hours after waking up.

    1. Wake up for Tahajjud

    After the obligatory prayers, Tahajjud is the best prayer to come closer to Allah and, thereby, improve our spiritual health. And the best time to pray Tahajjud is at the last part of the night.

    The blessings of this prayer is pretty self-explanatory from these two hadiths:

    “The closest that a slave comes to his Lord is during the middle of the latter portion of the night. If you can be among those who remember Allah, the Exalted One, at that time, then do so.” (At-Tirmidhi, sahih)

    “Observe the night prayer; it was the practice of the righteous before you, and it brings you closer to your Lord, and it is penance for evil deeds and erases the sins and repels disease from the body.” (At-Tirmidhi1)

    2. Spend some time with the Quran and in the remembrance of Allah

    A phone without a charger is just, well, a dead phone. Likewise, a Muslim/ah needs to connect to Allah through various forms of adkhar, and specifically, by reciting the Quran. In the Quran, we’re told:

    “And glorify the name of your Lord morning and evening” (Al-Quran, 76:26)

    Likewise, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) compared the believer who recites the Quran to a citrus fruit. He said, “The parable of the believer who recites the Qur’an is that of a sweet citrus fruit: its fragrance is nice, and its taste is nice. The parable of the believer who does not recite the Qur’an is that of a date: it has no smell, but its taste is sweet…” (At-Tirmidhi, Sahih)

    3. Pray Fajr with its sunnah (and if possible in the masjid)

    Pray Fajr on time, but also remember to pray the sunnah prayer that comes before it. Here is a hadith about this prayer:

    “Two Rakat for Sunnah of Fajr prayer are better than the Dunyaa and everything that is in it” (Sahih Muslim)

    Just imagine, what about the Fajr prayer then? What about, then, going to Masjid for Fajr prayer?

    4. Workout in the morning

    In a previous blog post, I’ve talked extensively about how working out in the morning is very beneficial to our lives. One of the key takeaways was this: working out in the morning helps you to be focused for the rest of the day.

    5. Take a shower

    As you probably know, Islam stresses a lot about personal hygiene. From numerous hadiths, we have been given explicit commandments about personal hygiene. The most important one is this:

    “Cleanliness is half of our imaan”. (Sahih Muslim)

    And having a shower in the morning helps you to fulfil this commandment, and it also gives you the boost you need to start the day well.

    Morning showers provide a host of benefits, but the greatest of all these benefits is that it helps you increase your levels of alertness throughout the day, provided you blast yourself with cold water (ca. 200 Celsius) in the last 1-2 minutes of your shower.

    6. Eat a healthy breakfast

    Our body needs good care and proper maintenance. And the best way to maintain yourself? By having a healthy meal.

    One of the best ways to jumpstart your day is eating a healthy breakfast that is full of protein, healthy fat, vegetables and some whole-wheat carbs.

    This is one of my favourite breakfasts:

    • ¼ of an Avocado
    • 3 organic eggs
    • Loads of vegetables
    • Some lentils

    7. Plan the day

    I’ve discussed this in my Ramadan Guide, but planning is perhaps one of the most neglected parts of the Sunnah. 9 out of 10 people I come across haven’t planned their day, never mind their week or year.

    Beginning your day with a proper plan that’s already been set helps you to be focused and productive. If you want to achieve more with less efforts, this simple strategy can do the trick!

    Take around 10 minutes at the start of your day and list the most important tasks that need your attention. Allocate some specific time for these tasks and commit them to writing. Here is an example of my daily plan:

    • 08:30 – 09:30: Blog post
    • 09:40 – 10:40: Learning
    • 11:00 – 12:00: Meeting with the technical team
    • 12:00 – 13:30: Lunch

    As you see, every minute is allocated to a specific task. This gives me unprecedented focus, and I’m able to get things done in a shorter time.

    Remember, successful mornings don’t just happen; they require effort.

    Question: From the above list, what is the one single act you can add today to your morning routine?

    1 It seems that this hadith is not authentic (or at least there is a great deal of difference of opinions about it). However, some scholars say that the narration is authentic without the last part (about it being a cure). Nevertheless, the reality of many who have practised Tahajjud regularly proves that if one prays and supplicates to Allah in the latter part of the night with ikhlas(sincerity), it may well serve their health and general well-being.

  • Five Simple Ways to Kill Your Stress

    Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life, duties, and responsibilities, and we all go through stress sometimes in our life so it’s vital to be familiar with stress management tips and techniques.

    Stress management is all about taking charge of your life, thoughts, and emotions. There are few habits that you can develop to overcome stress, and they are:

    1. Manage your time

    Time management is one of the most important skills we need to develop to achieve a productive and a fulfilling life for both the worlds.

    Since all of us have only a restricted amount of time in a day, it’s  better we understand how to manage our day appropriately. Here are some real-life tips for you to implement immediately:

    • Analyse your time and figure where the stress is coming from
    • Have a To-Do list: you need to plan your day so that you know what you are going to accomplish in that particular day. Stick to your To-Do list and perform these tasks first before you attempt to do anything else.
    • Have a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily plans. These plans help you to navigate through your life easier.
    • Prioritise – Do what is important/urgent first in your To-Do list and then deal with the rest.

    The Prophet (PBUH) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing righteous deeds.”  (Saheeh Buhary)

    Time management is indeed a proven way to reduce stress.

    2. Get more sleep

    When you don’t get enough sleep, your body and your mind suffer. This leads to lack of concentration and stress.

    According to national sleep foundation, an average adult needs around 7-9 hours of sleep daily (1)

    Sleep is considered as a sign of Allah’s greatness, and He said in the Quran “And among His Signs is your sleep by night and by day, and your seeking of His Bounty. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who listen”   (A-Quran, 30:23).

    3. Exercise

    Exercise is a very effective stress reduction technique and also a crucial habit to develop for a healthy life. Exercise is not only important for a healthy body, but it’s also important for a healthy mind. So make sure to have a certain amount of exercise daily.

    Studies show that exercise is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.

    An article that was published by Harvard school of public health showed that an adult needs an average of 20-25 minutes moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every day.

    This may include:

    • walking fast
    • water aerobics
    • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills etc.

    4. Learn to say “NO”

    Yes, do yourself a favour and learn to say “NO” to all the distracting activities and projects that will affect your planned day/week tremendously. Avoid over commitment and say “YESonly to the important things that you know you can do efficiently.

    5. Take breaks between the activities

    You need to rest and relax between the activities by:

    • Stretching
    • Meditating
    • Drinking cup of tea in the fresh air
    • Taking a short nap etc

    Take a break between your activities, ideally every 45 minutes and by doing that, you can focus more on the next task at hand and do it well.

    Lastly, Allah says in the Quran:

    Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. (Al-Quran, 2:286)

    So do what you can to the best of your ability, make dua and the leave the rest to Allah.

    This is a guest blog post. This article is written by Asma Ismail. Asma is the founder of Sixah academy – a nutritionist, writer, speaker and a health coach. Her mission is to support, encourage and help the Ummah to start living healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. You can follow her on Facebook



    1. https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need/page/0/1
    2. http://understandquran.com/tick-tock-the-value-of-time.html
    3. https://islamqa.info/en/96589
    4. https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need/page/0/1
    5. http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety