A humble Worshiper, struggling with my imperfections in seeking Allah's Pleasure. Acquiring & sharing beneficial knowledge.


November 2013

Bitterness of the break before the sweetness of the mend.

“From the perfection of Allah’s ihsan is that He allows His slave to taste the bitterness of the break before the sweetness of the mend. So He does not break his believing slave, except to mend him. And He does not withhold from him, except to give him. And He does not test him (with hardship), except to cure him.

— Ibn Ul Qayyim (RA)



Timing is Everything

The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ”Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth before you become old; your health, before you fall sick; your wealth, before you become poor; your free time before you become preoccupied, and your life, before your death.” (Tirmidhi)

We would spend hours wondering who we’d marry, what our future careers would be like and what the future would hold for us. It is human nature to believe that the “grass is always greener on the other side.” A sure fire way to wake up each morning with heavy eyelids and an even heavier heart is to focus on that which cannot be changed. We are often so preoccupied with feelings of sadness and regret regarding what has passed and with anxieties surrounding what is yet to come, that we completely devalue a piece of treasure that Allāh subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) provides us every second of everyday: the present moment. Every matter that the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mentions in the hadith above involves taking advantage of the present moment. As imām Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah raḥimahullāh (may Allāh have mercy upon him) refers to it- “the time between two times.” He states, “Your attention must be directed to your life in the present – the time between two times. If you waste it, then you have wasted the opportunity to be of the fortunate and saved ones. If you look after it, having rectified the two times – what is before and after it – then you will be successful and achieve rest, delight and ever-lasting” (al-Fawaa’Īd, pp. 151-152). So what is it about living in the present moment that promotes success and happiness? Reaching the point of being content with our current state and what we have can make all the difference in our perception of our lives. This reminds me of a quotation I read in Mitch Albom’s novel, The Time Keeper, “We all yearn for what we have lost. But sometimes, we forget what we have.” We also yearn for what we do not currently have. One common denominator I’ve often noticed about my clients who have been afflicted with anxiety and depressive disorders has been a tendency to ruminate, meaning thinking constantly of negative incidents in the past, and a tendency to catastrophize, meaning expecting something terrible to happen in the future. In doing so, not only have we squandered a precious gift provided to us by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He), but we have also underestimated Him subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) related to us Allāh subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, “I am as My servant thinks of me” (Sahih Bukhāri & Muslim). The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also said, “None of you should ever die except while assuming the best about Allāh.” (Sahîh Muslim) In ruminating continually on regrets from the past, we underestimate the Mercy and Forgiveness of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). And by catastrophizing about the future, we forget that the One who created us is, indeed, all-Powerful and Able to do all things. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally normal to worry about the future and to experience feelings of sadness associated with the past at times. Particularly as new life milestones approach (a new job, the birth of a child, marriage, graduation, etc.), we may experience a mixture of apprehension and excitement- apprehension about leaving the comforts associated with the status quo and excitement about the potential for positive change. However, although humans have the capability of thinking outside of the present moment, this does not mean that this is to our advantage. A study conducted by psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University found that people spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this results in feelings of unhappiness. Focusing on the here and now can lead us to be increasingly content with our current state- as well as increasingly accepting of the fact that the present moment is all we are truly guaranteed.

With this realization comes the following benefits:

  1. Doing as many good deeds as possible without delaying due to not knowing how many more “moments” we have left.
  2. Repenting for a sin and moving past it by replacing it with good deeds.
  3. Putting forth effort to make the most of the present rather than expecting things to magically change in the future.
  4. Taking personal responsibility for situations rather than wasting our time and energy shifting blame onto others.
  5. Realizing that no benefit arises from focusing on the past due to our inability to change it.
  6. Improving our time management skills.
  7. Savoring the beauty of the sights, sounds, tastes and feelings around us and thanking Allāh subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) for the ability to experience them.

Challenge yourself to live in the present moment. As Omar Ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said, “Hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable and weigh your deeds before they are weighed for you.” Hold yourself accountable for how you spend each second of this blessed month. Use every moment to draw closer to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) and actively seek His pleasure. Show gratitude to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) for each breath He grants you during this day by considering ways to positively use every moment of your time, whether it is while you are driving, waiting for an elevator on your way to work, cooking a meal for your family or as you fall asleep at night.

Challenge yourself to live in the here and now and reap the feelings of peace, tranquility and freedom that comes from this achievement.



Choosing between Yes & No

Do you have difficulty saying no to other people? Do you know how to say no to others?

I’ll admit it – I don’t like to say no. Whenever someone has a request, I’ll say yes where I can help it. Part of this is because I don’t like to leave people in the lurch. The other part comes from not wanting to disappoint others. And yet another part of me also feels saying no possibly means burning bridges with others, and I don’t want to jeopardize my relationships with them.

Hence, I say yes where I can, and say no as less often as possible.

Realities of NOT Saying No

While saying yes seems like an easy answer for the reasons above, it’s not necessary the best answer all the time.

Just like saying no has its implications, NOT saying no *has* implications too. Every time we say yes to something, we’re actually saying no to something else. Think about it:

  • When you say yes to something you don’t enjoy, you say no to things that you love
  • When you say yes to a job you don’t love, you say no to your dreams
  • When you say yes to someone you don’t like, you say no to a fulfilling relationship
  • When you say yes to working overtime, you say no to your social life
  • When you say yes to Quadrant 3/4 tasks, you say no to your Quadrant 2, high value activities

There are many other things I said no to in my life and that I continue to say no to on a regular basis. If I haven’t said no to all the things above, I’ll never have been able to have time to write these hundreds of articles, coach my 1-1 clients, run my workshops, develop my business, reach out to ten thousands of people around the world, create a top quality blog, have time with my family and friends, cultivate high quality, meaningful and fulfilling relationships, and live the life I love today.

The path of realizing your truest dreams requires you to say a lot of ‘no’s. No’s to Quadrant 3/4 tasks, no’s to unfulfilling jobs, no’s to work you don’t believe in, no’s to outrageous requests, no’s to negative and unhappy people, no’s to draining activities, no’s to meaningless tasks, no’s to many many things.

Look at how you’ve been living your life in the past week and think about what  you’ve been saying yes to. Have you been saying yes to an unfulfilling job? Yes to unfulfilling relationships? Yes to people who don’t respect your time? Yes to people who don’t appreciate you? Yes to work you don’t enjoy? Yes to activities you dislike? Yes to people who don’t appreciate you? Because if you have, what you’re really doing is saying no to your ideal life. Is that what you want? Are you being fair to yourself?

Respecting Yourself

You know, to me saying no ultimately boils down to respecting yourself. Do you respect yourself? Do you respect your time? Because if you respect yourself, you’ll also respect your time. You’ll be very conscious of how you spend it. You’ll say no to things which aren’t a good match for your interests, because you know you deserve more than that. You’ll say no to things that you don’t enjoy, because you rather spend your time doing things  you love. You’ll say no to people who don’t appreciate what you do, because they are just not worth it. You’ll say no to people who take you for granted, because it’s a waste of your time.

Many people say yes to things they don’t like because deep down, they don’t value themselves in the same way. They see others as more important. They see themselves as less important, that their time is dispensable, that they are not valuable. They keep putting themselves out there, sacrificing themselves for others. For the same reason, they don’t value their dreams. They look at their dreams and think “This is just a dream. It’s not worth going for. It’s never going to come true”. Then they just put them aside, and do things they don’t enjoy, day in and out.

If you don’t even respect your goals and dreams, then who is going respect them? If you don’t even think they are important, who is going to think they are? If you don’t say no to things you don’t believe in, then who is going to say no for you? If you don’t say yes to your goals and dreams, then who will help you say yes to them? When are you going to say no for real, so you can finally say yes to your dreams, and most importantly, to yourself?

How To Say No: 11 Steps To Say No To Others

It’s an ongoing process to learn how to say no, and it can be easy to tough to get started. But as long as you realize the importance of saying no, you’re on your way there.

For the remainder of this article, I’ll share 11 steps on how to say no. Whether you’re saying no to your boss, a friend, a colleague, a family member or a stranger, you’ll find the steps helpful. Remember there’s nothing wrong with saying no – it’s about learning how to say no. And hopefully with this guide, you’ll now know how to say no to others in the future.

1. Be clear of your vision

A lot of times we don’t say no because we don’t have a good enough reason to say no, other than a nagging feeling that we don’t want to do that. The nagging feeling is a start. It’s a clue that there is something else we’d rather do, a different scenario we’d rather be in. Probe further then. Think about your ideal vision, your dream outcome. What is your long-term vision for yourself, independent of the current situation? If you have your way, how would you want things to be? This is what you truly want.

Many people thought it was a big loss to quit my up-and-going career in a Fortune 100 company back in 2008. But it wasn’t a loss to me at all. To me the real loss would be if I had continued on staying in a job which was not going to lead me to my dreams. I was very clear of my end vision, which was to help others grow and live their best lives, through different mediums such as my blog, training, coaching and others. I knew this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, ever.

To continue in my job would prevent my dreams from coming to live. To stay on for another 1, 3, 5 years would only put me in the same position with respect to pursuing my passion 1, 3, 5 years later – at ground zero. I didn’t want this. My purpose and passion was the most important thing to me in my life, and there was nothing I would rather do in my life than that. To spend my time doing something which wasn’t that – there was really no point. This was why it was so easy for me to make the decision, because I knew what was at stake if I continued to say yes to my current job.

Once you know what your vision is, it’ll be extremely easy to say no, because now you have a clear reason to do so. The clearer you are, the easier it will be to say no, because now you will know exactly what you want to say yes to.

2. Know the implications of saying yes

We normally say yes to the little requests streaming in because it may seem like a small deal. Just chip in and help if we can – what’s the problem? It doesn’t take much time, maybe just 10-15 minutes, or 20 minutes max. Right?

Yet, these little moments pile up over time to become big clogs. There’s a reason why top executives, despite managing large companies and businesses, can have time for themselves, their families, friends and work all the time, while some people who are always busy day-in and day-out never seem to progress in their life situations. It’s as if the latter group is busy running to stay in the same spot. That’s because the former knows the implications of not saying no.

You can keep saying yes to errands, requests, and calls for help, but you’ll never be able to live the life you want. With every small request taking up 15 minutes, a few of such requests a day will easily suck up hours. Think in terms of months and years, and think of all the years you’re letting slip through your hands. Is that how you want your life to be summarized as – the NPC rather than the hero out there living the life he/she wants?

Whenever you get a request, think twice before  you say yes or no. What’s going to happen if you say yes to it? What are the long-term implications? What is there to gain? What are you going to lose if you agree? Do you really have to say yes? What limiting beliefs do you have that are making you say yes?

I believe that time is more precious than money, because while you can earn back money, you can never get back time. Once you lose your time, you lose it forever. The moment can’t be recaptured. Because of that, I really value my time – it’s my most precious commodity and I’m very conscious of how I spend it. I only engage in activities that have the most relevance to my needs, and in everything I do and take part in, I’ll give it my all. That’s what it means to live my life to the fullest – to maximize every moment that I’m in.

3. Realize that saying no is okay

Saying no is okay. We keep thinking that it’s not okay, that the other person will feel bad, that we’re being evil, that people will be angry, that we’re being rude, etc. While these stem from good intentions in us, the thing is most of these fears are self-created. If the person is open-minded, he/she will understand when you say no.

And if the person doesn’t understand and gets unhappy, I’m not sure if saying yes is a solution to begin with. After all, you can say yes once, but you can’t possibly say yes for the rest of your life just to appease one person. And how many people do you need to keep saying yes to before you finally have to say no? In such a scenario, there’s even more reason to say no so you can let the other party know exactly where you stand once and for all, vs. leading him/her on by saying yes.

There have been past situations where I was worried about saying no, because I was afraid the person would be disappointed, or that he/she would be unhappy, and bridges would be burned. And while it took me time to convey the message, nothing bad happened from saying no. Sure I felt bad in that instant where I said it, and sure the person must have felt disappointed, but it was never as bad as I thought it would be. Many times we continue to be on good terms, if not better, because now the relationship had become stronger from the experience. I also know I can be honest with this person in saying no next time too. And to think that I was worried earlier for so many things which didn’t even come to fruition!

Saying no is okay and it’s part and parcel of life. People say yes and no all the time every day in this world. You’re definitely not the only person saying no to someone else. So don’t worry about it. Being respectful in your communication is more important (see #6).

4. Use the medium you’re most comfortable with

Use the appropriate medium to communicate the message – face-to-face, instant messaging, emailing, SMS, phone call or even others. I don’t think there’s a one best medium because I’ve used different mediums before and it depends on the context and your relationship with the person. Email is great because you can write out the message, then send and not have to worry about it, until you get the reply. Face-to-face has a personal touch to it – you can get the person’s reaction instantly, address any questions and close the issue on the spot. Instant messaging lets you see answers in real time while giving you the chance to craft your messages before sending them out.

Use whatever is best for you. It should be the medium you’re most comfortable with.

5. Keep it simple

Keep it simple – let the person know that you can’t do it, and give a short explanation why you’re saying no. Sometimes a simple “No it’s okay”, “I’m sorry it doesn’t meet my needs at the moment”, “I have other priorities and I can’t work on this at the moment” or “Perhaps next time” work just fine. There’s no need to over-explain as it’s not relevant for the party anyway, and it might lead to the other party trying to challenge your stance instead when all you want to do is to communicate a message of “No, thank you”. If there are certain things which you’re open to discuss/negotiate on, put them up for discussion here.

6. Be respectful

Many don’t say no because they feel it’s disrespectful, however it’s about how you say it rather than the act of saying no. Be respectful in your reply, value the other party’s stance and you’ll be fine.

7. Provide an alternative if you want

This is not necessary – If you like, propose an alternative.

If you don’t think you’re the right person for the request, then propose someone whom you think is a better fit. If you’re not free to be engaged at the moment but you’d like to be involved, then propose an alternate timing where you are free. If there’s something you think is an issue, then point it out so you can help him/her improve. Do it if you can and if you want to, but don’t take it upon yourself to do this.

I usually do this as an act of good will, but if I can’t think of any alternatives then I don’t. Don’t take responsibility for the person’s request because then you’re just trying to overcompensate for not being able to say yes. Saying no is not a problem nor an issue (see #3).

8. Write everything down first

This is very helpful for me when I’m at a block on how to say no, usually when it’s a request I feel ambiguous about. Write out everything that’s on your mind, which includes what you really want to say to the person. While you’re doing this, sometimes you may uncover pent up frustrations. That’s good. Keep writing. While you may start out confused on how exactly to say no, the answer will start formulating itself mid-way through your message. Continue typing and it’ll soon be clear on what you actually want, and how to say it. Once you’re done, now review what you wrote and edit it to fit your final message.

9. Delay your response

If you’re not keen on the request, delaying your reply is a way of showing lack of interest. I usually archive my “no” mail, think over them for a couple of weeks and reply them after that. By then the other party would know that I’m not very keen, and they would not be so persistent in their responses as well.

10. Sometimes, no reply is also a form of reply

If a particular request isn’t important to you and you’re stretched for time, don’t worry too much about it. Life goes on for everyone. But if the person took some time to write a personal, customized message, it’ll be nice to just send a short note to say no so you don’t leave the person hanging. If you have already said no and the person still persists, then not replying is the way to go.

7 steps in dealing with negative people

Tip #1: Don’t Engage in the Negativity

One thing I found is negative people tend to harp on the bad things and ignore the positive stuff. They also have a tendency to exaggerate issues they are facing, making their predicament seem a lot worse than it actually is.

The first time you converse with a negative individual, provide a listening ear and offer help if needed. Provide support – let him/her know he/she is not alone. However, be sure to draw a line somewhere. If the person keeps harping on the same problems even after the first few conversations, then it’s a sign to disengage.

For starters, try to switch topics. If he/she goes into a negative swirl, let him/her continue, but don’t engage in the negativity. Give a simple reply, such as “I see” or “Okay”. Whereas if he/she is being positive, reply in affirmation and enthusiasm. When you do it often enough, he/she will soon realize what’s going on, and will start to be more positive in his/her communication.

Tip #2: Hang Out In Groups

Speaking to a negative person can be extremely draining. When I spoke to my negative co-worker, I would be mentally drained for several hours, even though we talked for only 20-30 minutes. That was because I was on the receiving end of all her negativity.

To address this, have someone else around when conversing with the negative individual. In fact, the more people, the better. This way, the negative energy is divided between you and the other members, and you don’t have to bear the full brunt of the negative energy.

The plus point of having someone else around is that people bring out a different side to an individual. By having another party around, it may bring out a more positive side in the negative person. I experienced this before and it helped me to see the “negative” individual in a different, more positive light.

Tip #3: Objectify the Comments Made

Negative people can be quite critical at times. They tend to drop insensitive comments that are hurtful, especially if they are directed at you.

For example, I once had a friend who was quite tactless. She would drop jarring comments which were dismissive and critical. Initially I was bothered by her words, wondering why she had to be so critical every time she spoke. I also wondered if there was something wrong with me – that perhaps I wasn’t good enough. However, when I observed her interactions with our common friends, I realized she did this to them too. Her comments were not personal attacks – it was just her being the way she was.

Recognize that the negative person usually means no harm – he/she is just caught up in his/her negativity. Start by learning how to deal with critical comments. Objectify the comments made – Rather than take his/her words personally, recognize that he/she is just offering a point of view. Sieve out the underlying message and see if there is anything you can learn from what he/she said.

Tip #4: Go with Lighter Topics

Some negative people are triggered by certain topics. For example, one of my friends turns into a self-victimizer whenever we talk about work. No matter what what I say, he’ll keep complaining about everything in his job, which becomes quite a conversation dampener.

If the person is deeply entrenched in his/her negativity, the unhappiness may be too deeply rooted to address in a one-off conversation. Bring in a new topic to lighten the mood. Simple things like new movies, daily occurrences, common friends, hobbies, happy news, make for light conversation. Keep it to areas the person feels positive towards.

Tip #5: Be Mindful of the Time You Spend With Them

As Jim Rohn puts it – “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. What this quote means is that who you spend your time with has an impact on the person you eventually become.

I find it to be very true. Think about the times you hang out with negative people – Do you feel more positive or negative after that? Same for positive people – How do you feel after spending some time with them?

Whenever I’ve an encounter with negative people, I’d often feel negative after that, like a bad aftertaste. Whereas with positive people, I’d feel extremely upbeat and exuberant. Clearly, there is a spill over effect that takes place even after the interaction! By spending more time with negative people, your thoughts and emotions will slowly become negative too. At first it might be temporary, but over time it’ll slowly become ingrained in you.

If you feel certain people in your life are negative, then be conscious of how much time you’re spending with them. I recommend to limit the duration where you can help it. For example, if they want to hang out with you but you don’t enjoy their company, learn to say no. If it’s a meeting or phone call, set a limit to how long you want it to be. Keep to the objective of the discussion, and don’t let it extend beyond that time.

Tip #6: Identify Areas You Can Make a Positive Change

Negative people are negative because they lack love, positivity and warmth. A lot of times, their negative behavior is a barrier they erect to protect themselves from the world.

One of the best ways you can help a negative individual is to usher positivity into his/her life. Think about what’s bothering the person at the moment, and think about how you can help him/her in your own way. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, and you definitely don’t have to go out of the way to help if you don’t want to. The key here is to be sincere in your desire to help, and to show him/her the upsides in life.

A while back, I had a friend who was unhappy with her job, due to the stagnating environment and culture mismatch. There was a job opportunity that arose in my (now former) workplace, so I introduced that opportunity to my friend. She eventually got the job, and she has been working there for over 3 years now, and doing very well.

Today, she’s a lot happier, forward-looking and proactive in life. She’s definitely a lot more positive than she was a few years ago. While I do not take any credit for what she has carved for herself in her career, I feel very happy knowing that I helped in a small way at the right time. Likewise, there’s always something you can do for others too – keep a look out and help where you can. Just a small act on your part may well make a huge difference in their lives.

Tip #7: Drop Them From Your Life

If all else fails, reduce contact with them or drop them from your life.

Rather than spend your time with negative people, focus on the positive people instead. In the past, I spent a lot of time with negative people, trying to help them with their issues. It drained up a lot of my energy and was often futile, which led me to rethink my methods. Ever since then, I worked on cultivating positivity by hanging out with positive friends and business partners. This has turned out to be a lot more rewarding and fruitful.

Remember that your life is yours to lead, and it’s up to you on how you want it to be. If there are negative people who make you feel bad about yourself, work on those issues with the 7 steps above. With the right actions, you can create a dramatic difference in what you get out of your relationships.

Celestine Chua writes at The Personal Excellence Blog on how to achieve our highest potential in life. Read her readers’ favorite 101 Inspiring Quotes of All Time and get her free ebooks here.


The Miracle of Honey

The Miracle of Honey

More than 1,400 years ago Allah and His messenger (PBUH), told us that honey can heal a variety of medical problems.

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Make use of the two remedies: honey and the Quran.” (Tirmithi)

Modern medicine is only just learning of this fact. People knew honey from ancient times and long before they began to process refined sugar. Honey’s natural properties also make it an excellent replenisher and a solvent; it opens the pores of blood vessels and eases menstrual discharge, forces out phlegm, and opens obstruction of the liver, kidney, and bladder.

Honey is abluent and an aperient. It contains detergent and tonic properties that cleanse the arteries and bowels of impurities. It opens obstructions of the liver, kidney, and bladder. It is also a general preservative, and it helps to preserve the potency of salves among other natural medicinal remedies. Honey is also a curative for a depraved appetite, and when taken as a drink mixed with hot water and a pomace made from sweet roses, it helps the treatment of rabies, and is considered a safeguard from further infections. Honey is also used as detoxicant for drug users, and as an antitoxin to treat accidental eating of poisonous plants of the nightshade family (Hyoscymus niger), or wild fungus, among others. As a preservative, honey can be used to preserve meat for up to three months, and is used in pickling cucumbers, squash, eggplant, and various kinds of fruits for up to six months. Known as “LIM trustworthy preservative”.

Traditional uses of honey have included honey mixed with lemon for sore throats. Honey coats the throat and reduces throat irritation. Research has already shown that honey blocks the growth of oral bacteria. Honey has also been used for stomach pains and problems. Modern research shows that honey is effective when used in the treatment of gastric or peptic stomach ulcers. Research has also revealed that honey is effective in the treatment of various wounds and infections because of its anti-microbial (antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal) properties.

Researchers are not absolutely sure why honey heals but they are learning new things about honey everyday. We do know that honey contains a variety of sugars and minerals. Honey is also considered an antioxidant. This means it allows the blood to circulate better and provide more oxygen to areas of the body such as the brain. Honey can also be used externally to promote healing when applied to wounds, even postoperative wounds. Honey has also been effective in its use to treat burns. It has even been shown to be low in calories and useful as a sweetener for diabetics, people with heart-disease, or those overweight.

Although there is healing in honey for a variety of medical disorders, certain precautions should be taken. Children under the age of one year never should be given honey due to the possibility of infant botulism.

As Muslims, we must acknowledge and accept that Allah and His Prophet, (PBUH), know better and have revealed the truth. We should, therefore, study the research that is available, not to confirm or deny the truth that has been revealed by Allah (SWT) and his Prophet (PBUH), but to learn of new ways we can use honey.

Allah says in the Quran, “And Your lord inspired the bee, to build your dwellings in hills, on trees, and in (human’s) habitations. Then, to eat of all the produce and follow the ways of your Lord made easy. There comes forth from their bodies a drink of varying color, wherein is healing for men: Verily, in this is a sign for those who give thought.” [Qur’an 16:68-69]

beeThe imperative “build” above is the translation of the Arabic word “attakhithi”, which is the feminine form (Arabic grammar unlike English, differentiates between the sexes). The feminine form is used when all of those it refers to are female, whereas the masculine is used when a group consists of at least 1 male.

Therefore the Quran is in fact saying “build, you female bees.” A swarm of bees, which collect honey and build the hive, are female only.

Thus, the phrasing of this command is in agreement with the scientific fact that male bees do not partake in the construction of the hive. Microscopes were not invented until 1610, when Galileo invented one of the first microscopes almost a thousand years after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The Prophet (PBUH) has also told us of the healing found within honey for a variety of medical problems, including stomach ailments. One hadeeth, reported by Bukhari, states that a man came to the Prophet (PBUH) because his brother had a stomach disorder. The Prophet said “Let him drink honey.” The man returned a second time and again the Prophet (PBUH), responded again, “Let him drink honey.” The man returned again, and said “I have done that”. The Prophet then responded, “Allah has said the truth, but your brother’s stomach has told a lie. Let him drink honey.” He drank it and was cured.

Honey indeed has great nutritional value and is the drink of drinks, a sweetener of sweeteners, an ointment of ointments, and there is no other food among what Allah has created for us that equals honey value, and nothing is close to its constitution.

Happiness is in comprehending The ultimate Reality of Life

In the Alchemy of Happiness, al-Ghazali begins by writing that “He who knows himself is truly happy.” Self-knowledge consists in realizing that we have a heart or spirit which is absolutely perfect, but which has been covered with dust by the accumulation of passions derived from the body and its animal nature. The essence of oneself is likened to a perfect mirror which if polished would reveal one’s true divine nature. The key to this polishing is the elimination of selfish desires and the adoption of a contrary desire to do what is right in all aspects of one’s life. As he writes, “the aim of moral discipline is to purify the heart from the rust of passion and resentment till, like a clear mirror, it reflects the light of God.”

Such a task is not easy, thus it would seem that genuine happiness is not a state most people can attain. Indeed, al-Ghazali emphasizes that only a few people have attained this supreme happiness, which is the ecstasy of union with the divine. These people are the prophets, which appear in all times and places, as messengers to remind mankind of their true purpose and their ultimate goal. The prophets are those who have succeeded in cleansing their inner mirrors of all the rust and dirt accumulated by bodily desires and comparisons with others. As a result, they can see in their waking moments what other people only see haphazardly in their dreams, and they receive an insight into the nature of things through an immediate flash of intuition rather than through laborious learning.

Al-Ghazali writes that every person is born with a “knowing pain in the soul” resulting from a disconnection from the Ultimate Reality. The tragic condition of Man is that our eyes have been so distracted by physical things and pleasure, that we have lost the ability to see the unseen. This is why people are so unhappy: they are trying to relieve this pain in the soul by recourse to physical pleasure. But physical pleasure cannot relieve a pain that is essentially spiritual. The only answer to our condition is a pleasure which comes not from the body but from self-knowledge.

This self-knowledge is not to be attained by mere thinking or philosophy, however.

Al-Ghazali writes that unhappiness is created by enslavement to desire and the belief that one should satisfy only one’s own desires (as governed by base instincts and appetites). He maintains that everyone perceives, even in that bewildering state, that something is amiss, that we are living an inauthentic life that needs correction. This nagging feeling is the source of our greatest joy, for once we become conscious of it we can be led in the opposite direction, towards the life of meaning and self-transcendence.

Al-Ghazali teaches us the following about achieving true happiness:

  • Happiness comes from Self-Knowledge, the knowledge that we have a heart or spirit that is originally perfect but has become obscured by passions and desires.
  • Happiness depends on our faculties: if we exercise our higher faculties (like Reason, Imagination), we will be happier than if we exercise our lower ones (mere physical pleasures)
  • There are examples in history of truly happy people, and they were prophets — people who have attained a perfect union with Ultimate Reality
  • Most of us seek substitute pleasures deriving from the body which cannot resolve a pain that is essentially spiritual.


Al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid. The Alchemy of Happiness. Trans. And ed. Claud Field and Elton I. Daniel. London: M.E. Sharpe, 1991.

A Brief Introduction to Islamic Philosophy. Blackwell: 2007.

“Do not get angry”


Abû Hurayrah relates that a man said to the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Counsel me.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Do not get angry.” The man repeated his request many times, but the Prophet (peace be upon him) kept saying: “Do not get angry.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî ]

The importance of this hadith: 
The secret behind this hadīth’s importance lies in the fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) limited his counsel to this person in one short instruction: “Do not get angry.” Al-Nawawî informs us that Abû Muhammad `Abd Allah b. Abî Zayd said: “Everything that constitutes good manners can be derived from four hadith…” and mentioned among them the Prophet’s statement “…to the one to whom he limited his counsel with: ‘Do not get angry’.” 

This statement, given in this context, is rich in meaning. First, by limiting his counsel to this one short instruction, the Prophet (peace be upon us) indicates the importance of controlling one’s anger, and that doing so has far-reaching implications for a person’s welfare both in the worldly life and in the Hereafter. 

Ibn Hajar, in his commentary on this hadith, observes:

The man stated his question repeatedly, hoping to solicit an answer that was more beneficial, or more explanatory, or more general; however he did not give him anything more than that.” [ Fath al-Bârî ]

Secondly, the categorical nature of this brief statement gives the prohibition sweeping implications – since it can be understood to indicate many things, for instance, that we should prevent ourselves from getting angry in the first place, and that we should forbid ourselves from acting according to the dictates of our anger in the event that we become angry. 

The emotion of anger 

Anger is a very powerful emotion. It rages through a person, creating a desire for revenge and for striking out at the object of anger. Anger is an emotion that inspires action, and the action that it inspires is one of injury. The emotion of anger invokes within a person the very antithesis of mercy, compassion, self-restraint, and kindness. 

This is what makes the emotion so dangerous. If left unchecked and uncontrolled, it is the emotion that can lead a person to the evilest of deeds and to the worst and most tragic consequences. 

Prevention of anger 

The statement “Do not get angry”, taken on its face value, is commanding us not to experience the emotion of anger at all. We know that this cannot be the intended meaning in an absolute sense, since it is an impossible instruction to uphold. Anger is a natural, human emotion. It is impossible for a person to avoid it absolutely. 

Though this hadith may not be prohibiting us from ever experiencing the emotion of anger, it is, at the very least, advising us strongly to avoid that emotion as much as possible. And, indeed, there are measures that a person can take to limit his chances of getting angry. First, he can condition himself to remain cool-tempered. When a person’s temper is under control, he is less likely to become angry when an occasion for anger arises, and more likely to control himself when he, in spite of himself, does become angry. 

Another way that a person can limit his chances of getting angry is for him to know what causes anger and remove those causes from his life. 

Among the chief causes of anger are pride and arrogance, since a prideful person is most easily offended and the most painfully stung by criticism. Another cause of anger is being argumentative. The more a person disputes with others, the less likely he is to accept the truth. His views become increasingly polarized and emotionally charged. A Muslim is, therefore, encouraged to avoid these negative character traits. In doing so, he will be less likely to get angry. 

Self-restraint in anger 

The statement “Do not get angry” can be understood in another way. Instead of commanding us not to experience the emotion of anger in our hearts, it is telling us not to act upon that emotion when we are beset by it. There is no doubt that this hadith is commanding us to, at the very least, exercise self-restraint when we feel angry. This much is obligatory upon us. 

This meaning is clearly conveyed to us by many texts, some of which praise those who control themselves in anger. This implies that feeling anger is not always sinful or blameworthy in and of itself. Indeed, when a person conducts himself properly in anger, he is in fact doing something worthy of praise. 

Allah describes the God-fearing as those who restrain themselves in anger. He says: “And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden whose width is that of the heavens and the Earth, prepared for the God-fearing. Who spend in times of ease and times of hardship and who restrain their anger and who pardon people. And Allah loves those who do good.” [ Sûrah `Âl `Imrân : 133-134] 

He also says: “And what is with Allah is better and more enduring for those who believe and who rely upon their Lord. And those who avoid the major sins and indecencies, and when they become angry, they forgive.” [ Sûrah al-Shûrâ : 36-37] 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The strong man is not the one who can throw another down. The strong man is the one who can keep hold of himself when he is angry.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim 

We should seek refuge with Allah when we become angry. Two men began hurling insults at one another in the presence of the Prophet (peace be upon him), each one insulting the other with such anger that his face had turned red. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I know a word that if one were to say it, what stresses him would go away. If he would but say: ‘I seek refuge with Allah from Satan the Accursed’.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) advised us not to speak when we are angry. He said: “If one of you gets angry, he should be quiet.” [ Musnad Ahmad 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave us other practical advice. He said: “If one of you gets angry and he is standing, then he should sit down until his anger subsides. If it does not, then he should lie down.” [ Sunan Abî Dâwûd 

He also said: “Anger is from Satan, and Satan was created from fire. Fire is but extinguished by water, so if one of you gets angry, he should perform wudû’.” [ Sûnan Abî Dâwûd and Musnad Ahmad 

Righteous anger 

We need to mention that not all anger is sinful. Anger that inspires a person to avenge his own personal feelings is indeed blameworthy. However, anger can also be felt for the sake of Allah and for His religion. This is the anger that a Muslim should feel when his religion is attacked, his beliefs blasphemed, and the honor and lives of the people are transgressed against.

However, this anger, if it is truly and sincerely for Allah’s sake, will only inspire us to noble deeds and to personal sacrifice, and never to base, unjust, or ignoble actions. 

The Companions relate that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would never became angry for anything. However, if the sanctity of Allah was profaned, then nothing could assuage his anger.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) never acted angrily for personal reasons. He never once so much as raised his voice to his servants or his family. Anas relates that he worked as the Prophet’s servant for ten years, and not once did the Prophet (peace be upon him) so much as say “ uff ” to him, or ask him when he did something “Why did you do that?” or ask him when he neglected something: “Why didn’t you do that?” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim 

The Companions relate: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) exhibited more shyness than a maiden in seclusion. If he saw something that he disliked, we would see it in his face.” [ Sahîh al-Bukhârî 


Towards Inner Peace

The human soul is by nature weak and sensitive. It is usually weaker than the body, but sometimes it is far stronger. It is not perfect or immune, but it lives with a variety of needs, at the top of which is the need for inner peace and security.

A person may own a huge amount of wealth or achieve remarkable success in society, yet he may still feel that there is a deep vacuum within his soul. To his surprise, that feeling of tranquility and serenity is totally absent from his life, despite all his material achievements. He is constantly concerned and unsatisfied. Such a person may have learnt well how to win the battle of success and distinction in some areas of worldly life, but little does he know about the needs of his inner being and the way of fulfilling them.

The human soul, if its inborn nature remains untarnished, feels a deep attachment toward its Creator, Allah. It derives its feeling of peace and security from Him. So, if a person truly believes in Allah and remembers Him a lot, complying with His instructions, he will find a deep sense of security and tranquility, and those fears and anxieties experienced by other people will not affect him. This connection with our Creator is indeed indispensable.

Admittedly, for one to secure inner peace while living with these huge wavy seas of worldly attractions and distractions is not an easy endeavor; and here lies the test. Just as collecting a fortune, securing a respectable career, or achieving high status and fame among people is a type of struggle; likewise, attaining inner peace is also a struggle that may even be harder. The following are some tips on how to win this struggle in order to secure inner peace:

Remembrance of Allah

A person feels joy and happiness when meeting or remembering someone beloved to him. Indeed, our Lord is incomparably more beloved to us. When we meet and talk to Him — such as in Prayer, recitation of the Noble Qur’an, supplication, or any other act of worship that reminds us of our Creator and connects us with Him — our hearts are filled with peace and tranquility, a feeling not found elsewhere. In the Qur’an, Almighty Allah says: 

(Those who believe, and whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of Allah. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace.) (Ar-Ra`d 13:28)

Allah has created us for a noble purpose, which is to worship Him alone without any partner.

Conversely, if a person lives far removed from the remembrance of Almighty Allah, he will definitely suffer and his life will be full of trouble and difficulties, no matter how much he may possess in this world. That is because he may be materially rich, but on the other hand spiritually very poor. This is illustrated in a Qur’anic verse that reads:

(And whoever turns away from remembrance of Me, his shall be a straitened life, and We will raise him on the day of resurrection, blind.) (Ta-Ha 20:124)  

Aspiring for the Hereafter

Almighty Allah has created us for a noble purpose, which is to worship Him alone without any partner. And we are here for a short, yet hard, test, not for a permanent life. About the reality of this world, Almighty Allah says:

(And this life of the world is nothing but a pastime and a play; and as for the next abode, that most surely is the life– did they but know!) (Al-`Ankaboot 29:64)

So, it would be totally irrational for a person to prefer this worldly, fleeting life to the permanent abode in the hereafter. Winning Paradise should be the paramount goal for every believer. If this happens, life, along with its numerous fears and troubles, will be too insignificant in the eyes of believers to unduly care about, and a feeling of security and peace will fill their lives.

Patience is Good

Believers know that whatever happens in this world is predestined by Almighty Allah and occurs according to His will. They are firm in their belief that whatever befalls them — whether favorable or seemingly unfavorable — is ultimately good for them, if they show patience and extend praise to their Lord. So, if a misfortune befalls them, believers do not panic or show discontent, knowing that their patience will earn them immense reward in the hereafter, as well as deep relief and inner peace in this world.

Contentment with What We Have

It is part of human nature to want to be richer, more successful, and better-looking than others. One feels jealous if someone else is more successful, famous, or healthy, etc. Indeed, such a person is never content with what he has, for it is not possible for someone to be better than all other people in all aspects. Worldly life is not meant for perfection. Only faith can give this feeling of contentment. A believer is aware that Almighty Allah gives whatever He wishes to whomever He wishes, and that He is testing us regarding what He has given or withheld from us. Such belief frees one from the destructive feelings of jealousy, envy, and grudge toward others, and thus one leads a peaceful life of contentment and satisfaction. 

Forgiveness and Forbearance

When a believer seeks to please his Creator,he will spare himself the trouble of trying to attain the unattainable.

Forgiveness is a noble virtue commended in Islam. Almighty Allah loves forgiveness and loves those who are forgiving. This virtue shall be rewarded by the All-Forgiving on the Day of Judgment, as revealed in many Qur’anic verses and Prophetic hadiths. Yet a great reward is also received here in this world: that feeling of relief which enters the heart of both the one who is forgiven and the one who forgives. When a person is on the receiving end of some offence or harm, he usually feels hurt and uneasy, and he may seek to retaliate by offending the other person or harming him in one way or another. If such attitude is generally followed in our mutual relationships, animosity and hatred will spread all across society, and all its members will suffer. The faithful, however, heed the command of their Lord and forgive one another for His Sake, and this gives relief to their hearts and binds them in friendly relationships. It is revealed in the Qur’an that:   

(The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity [will become] as though he was a bosom friend.) (Fussilat 41:34)

Pleasure of Allah Alone

By every deed he engages in, a believer seeks to please his Lord and win His Paradise. Even those acts that are apparently not pure forms of worship like Prayer or fasting should be done with the intention of pleasing Almighty Allah. For example, an employee who is careful to do his work perfectly should do so in pursuit of Allah’s pleasure, not for praise by his employer. When a believer seeks to please his Creator and does everything sincerely for His Sake, he will spare himself the trouble of trying to attain the unattainable: to keep people always pleased.

If a believer receives nothing but ingratitude for a favor he has done, this does not make him too sad or disappointed, for it is only the approval and reward of Allah that he is seeking, not thankfulness or gratitude from others, which is often difficult to obtain. Likewise, if a person is criticized for a good deed he has done purely for Allah’s Sake — such as spending generously on the poor or standing up against a powerful unjust man — this will only increase his zeal to win the approval of the Almighty Creator and give him relief and peace of heart in the hope that his Lord would be pleased with him.

Righteous Company

A peaceful, blissful life cannot be truly enjoyed without a righteous company who encourage one another to perform good deeds and refrain from sins; who advice one another for the sake of Allah; who give solace to one another if a calamity strikes; who are helpful and loving; and when a mistake is committed, they forgive and forget. Such people are indeed a precious source of relief, solace, joy, and peace.


Courtesy: Ahmed El-Gharbawy (


A Jew lost his invaluable ring and accidentally a poor Muslim fellow found it. When this Muslim came to know that it belongs to that Jew he went to return him.

The Jew smiled and asked him:”Do you know its value?”
The Muslim replied:”Yes.”

“You found this and you are also a poor and a needy!” said the Jew.
“Yes, you are right.” The Muslim replied.

The Jew asked,”Did it not come to your mind that by selling this ring you can live a comfortable life as you had an excuse that it belonged to a Jew?”

The Muslim told him,”Why, I should have thought that way?”

“So why did you return this ring to me while I was not knowing that you have found it?” Questioned the Jew.

The poor Muslim replied: “We believe on the Day of Judgement, and so I told myself that if I do not give this ring to the owner, then during the accounting of the deeds of the people on that day, my Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and your prophet Hazrat Musa (peace be upon him) would be sitting together and you will be complaining about this to your Prophet (P.B.U.H) and then your Prophet (P.B.U.H) would complain to my Prophet (P.B.U.H) that a person belonging from your Ummah (nation) has done such and such an act. And at that moment my Prophet (P.B.U.H) would not be able to answer him. So…



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