When I embarked on my journey of knowledge, I wanted to learn it all. I came across:
The Alfiyya of Imam Malik in grammar, 1000 lines
The Alfiyya of Suyuti in the science of hadith, 1000 lines
The Shātibiya in Qur’anic recitation, 1173 lines
I resolved to memorize each, but eventually wound up doing none.
People think about many things and want to do much, but lack organization and planning skills stops them. The key is to start one thing at a time, take it step-by-step and prioritize.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How many times have you finished the Qur’an since last Ramadan?
- How many hours are you spending online?
- What was the last book you’ve read?
- Have you ever read Saheeh Bukhari cover-to-cover?
On average an American reads 11 books a year, while those in the Muslim world average ½. This while the first command to the Prophet was iqra’. You have to devote your time to reading, make a list, a plan of titles to read over the next 6 months.
Write down the following statement:
“I am without a cell phone, internet connection, laptop, TV.”
What would you do if you are in this situation? What would you do without friends or family, if you were truly alone? Some of the pious predecessors yearned to be alone and shunned company to devote themselves to their books. They knew their priorities and what they had to do.
Write down the five most beloved people to you. Go ahead, do it.
Now take a look at that list, and know that one day, you will be running away from some of these and be enemies with some.
The day when man forsakes his brethren
His mother and his father
His wife and his own children
-The Noble Qur’ān
There are 4 types of people in the world:
- a person who does not care
- people who feel bad but do nothing (like a doctor who tells you the diagnosis, but then tells you, there is nothing I can do . . .)
- people who care and want to do something but wind up not helping or creating bigger problems (for example, you see a fly on your friend’s face – – – you get the picture)
- people who care, want to do something and do positive things
Aim to be the of the 4th type, those who positively help others. Remember that the Prophet said: The feet of the son of Adam will not move until he is questioned about 4 things: his knowledge, wealth, life, and his youth. These are 4 assets all of us possess, but we must invest those assets for the future.
How do we do that? When we die, all our assets come to a close, except for continuing charity, beneficial knowledge or righteous progeny that prays for you. So it’s all about helping others. And helping someone who will help others.
Be ambitious and aim high. Ask for the highest level of Paradise. Allah says: I am as my servant thinks of me . . . [Hadith Qudsi]
When was the last time you made a difference in the life of someone else?
Have vision and think for the future. We build masajid but only plan for the building. After years of collecting that, then we fundraise for electricity, etc. Why don’t we include that planning from the beginning, and create projects that sustain themselves?
There is a man I know of who used to be a medical doctor but then wanted to help others. He moved to Africa, establishing a relief group, and began helping all, including non-Muslims. He ended up converting 2 million people to Islam! I don’t know anyone that achieved that from among any of the scholars or writers or Islamic workers today.
In Madinah University, there are over 140 nationalities. Every time the African students would meet me and find out where I was from, they would comment, you are from the country of this man.
Not all Muslims were scholars, some were warriors and fighters, like Khalid bin Waleed. Some Companions were poor, some rich, but each contributed what they were good at.
When was the last time you helped someone else?
There is a unique project that comes to mind. Some people made a prison for the dead in Kuwait in front of a shopping mall. Here, they would display the bodies, shrouded, of those who left debts behind. Since it was situated in front of a busy shopping district, curious passerbies would ask why the bodies were being kept there. When informed of the debts, most people would contribute to the bodies, some even taking care of the entire debts. This was a wonderful and unique way of helping someone who really is in need. That person would be benefited until the end of time in their graves.
Try to imagine the rewards! The Prophet said, Verily lending loans is equivalent to one-half of sadaqah. [Musnad Ahmad]
18 years ago, one imam I know prayed once for a son who would be able to help him and correct him. He had a righteous intention and proper planning. Today, 18 years later, he has seven sons, all of whom memorized the Qur’an. They lead the prayers in his place. One of his children memorized all six books of hadith, and he relies on him for hadith.
Our time is limited. Ibn Hazm said, Your life is only the current moment, for the past is already gone, and the future has yet to come. So take advantage of the moment.
Live from Houston, Ilm Summit 2008, day 5