Declutter Your Room And Find Your Purpose

Declutter Your Room And Find Your Purpose

Sometimes the ailments of our souls come back to the simplest of things: organization and discipline.

By Nabi Raza Abidi

The sense of purposelessness and lack of meaningful goals in life is a feeling that grows worse as people age, at least that is the case for many. It is an impending sense of nihilism that brings about a lack of passion and liveliness in life. This not only applies to people’s careers but also their religious and family lives.

There is no single answer to this problem as a complex set of conditions usually opens the doors to this difficult state. Yet I think that a good place to start is knowing that clarity in life is usually the result of stillness of mind whereas confusion and lack of orientation comes from chaos and “clutter in the mind”.

It is amazing how cleaning one’s room, office, car, organizing files on a laptop, creating a schedule and praying on time brings about an order in life that is essential for mental clarity. Perhaps if we fulfilled these little simple bits of forgotten tasks, our souls could finally find some order. As the American moral theorist Russell Kirk once said, “order is the first need of the soul.”

An organized soul takes our hearts and minds out of chaos and contributes to bringing them back to stillness. When this happens, what then would happen to our previous sense of purposelessness? It seems to me that the meaning of being can be rekindled in the soul, and a new will to live can be reborn. How much better would worship be in this condition?

I know this post was a bit of a mouthful, but here is the gist of what was said: your mental clutter can often be the result of the physical and spatial clutter in your life. Reorganizing your work and life space will help bring clarity to your mind thereby giving you a better perspective on your goals and the overall meaning of your life. This will also lay the foundation for a healthier religious and spiritual life.

Waʿlaikum as-Salam,
Yours Faithfully
Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Imam of the SABA Islamic Center
San Jose, California

Your Spouse Can’t Read Your Mind

Your Spouse Can’t Read Your Mind

Your spouse will never be able to hear what you’re not saying. Make it a duty to communicate your feelings and check on theirs.

By Nabi Raza Abidi

One of the most destructive beliefs that often leads to divorce is the belief that your spouse can read your mind. What is also destructive is the belief that appearances are always truthful. So what am I talking about here?

A very large number of divorces that are handled in Islamic centers are usually met with disbelief by one of the partners because he or she was not aware of the built up dissatisfaction and resentment of the other. In these cases, the dissatisfied partner does not show his/her built up resentment for a very longtime. The issue at hand here is the following fact: not even happily married couples can really hear what the other person is NOT saying.

Not communicating frequently often leads to a breakup. Why does this happen?

In our experience, individuals are concerned about the other’s reaction. They’re not sure how they themselves will be critiqued or how the situation might get more tense. But the problem here is that fear and denials are not strategies to improve a marriage. At one point all of your resentments will come out whether you like it or not. A lot of the divorces in our centers are not the result of big mistakes, they are an accumulation of years of built up anger. In other words, like the famous Chinese inspired saying goes, divorce is a “death by a thousand cuts.”

It is better to make things unpleasant now than later. You can be pretty much guaranteed that things will be more unpleasant later if you hide or bottle things up. It is better to discover the real problem now before the marriage is buried. In order to avoid discomfort or cause irritation in the spouse, we end up creating a bigger issue that can never be fixed. Of course, I’m not talking about cases in which poverty, abuse and children are intertwined, these are matters to be discussed in a separate setting as they are more complex.

So what’s the takeaway here? You never go on for months not checking your phone, bank account or email or even checking yourself in the mirror. Make it a duty to check on your relationship as well as that is more important. If you want your marriage to last, check up on your relationship regularly and make sure to communicate your feelings in a respectful and non-accusing way. Ignorance will never be bliss for too long.

Waʿlaikum as-Salam,
Yours Faithfully
Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Imam of the SABA Islamic Center
San Jose, California

Fake Vs. Real Akhlaq

Fake Vs. Real Akhlaq

Real akhlaq is not necessarily about good manners per se, but it is about what intentions you have when you undertake it.

By Nabi Raza Abidi

When you show good manners and patience to someone because you fear him (or her), it can lead to serious problems. The anger, resentment and all other internal problems get bottled up and the person who publicly shows good manners/patience may snap once he (or she) is in a position of power. For example, some people will show great patience and manners in front of a boss, but totally lose their cool with their children and/or spouse because now there is no fear, so all those bottled up negative emotions are given free reign to come out and wreck total havoc.

What’s the solution? When dealing with a boss or someone who is in a position of power (or in a position to hurt you), change your niyyah (intention). Instead of being good, patient and showing good manners for the sake of fearing a person in authority, do them for the sake of Allah (swt). You will find that when you do this, all those negative feelings are bottled up much less and you are more likely to show the same attitude with people who are under you like your children (or spouse, friends etc.) This is what real akhlaq (spiritual ethics) is about in Islam, good manners/patience (or what have you) done for the sake of something or someone other than God is not akhlaq, it is servitude to illusion and dunya and it will be exposed sooner or later.

Waʿlaikum as-Salam,
Yours Faithfully
Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Imam of the SABA Islamic CenterSan Jose, California

5 Ways To Anchor Yourself In Life And Fight Despair

5 Ways To Anchor Yourself In Life And Fight Despair

The feeling is not irredeemable, here are some useful tips that can help.

By Nabi Raza Abidi

The feeling of loss and hopelessness is very common. This feeling leads to low productivity, low motivation, job loss, loss of relationships and more. Having no anchor in life often leads to an unfulfilling life.

One way to remedy this problem is to find meaning and set a goal that is larger than yourself. The goal must not be grandiose but reasonably possible to achieve. Every incremental step towards this goal will give you a dopamine boost, courage and the will to continue on in life. What I am saying here is obviously easier said than done, but I hope that the following five pointers may be of use:

1) Do not keep your mind idle, feed it with knowledge both from books and audio.

2) Exercise and eat right. Without a healthy body, your mind will not reach its potential.

3) Find an inspirational role model who was in a tougher situation than you but managed to succeed. Here reading biographies can be very useful.

4) Set a plan and a schedule for yourself. Even if little, make sure your efforts are persistent.

5) Keep up with your relationship with Allah and your duties to Him. In order to keep this up, always find ways to be grateful to Him and make sure to give charity to those who have less than you and Allah will open doors that you thought were impossible to open.

If you manage to anchor yourself properly in the world, you will find that with the peace of mind that being anchored grants, your quality of life and work will improve and you will see a change both in your career and in your relationships.

Waʿlaikum as-Salam,

Yours Faithfully
Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Imam of the SABA Islamic Center
San Jose, California

How The Battle Against The Evil Self Is Won | By Nabi Raza Abidi

How The Battle Against The Evil Self Is Won | By Nabi Raza Abidi

In the battle against one’s evil inclinations, despair can sometimes overtake us. With the right mindset, one can overcome this despair.

By Nabi Raza Abidi

There is no greater battle than the battle against the evils of oneself. This has been said ad nauseam in spiritual talks. Although true, it is often forgotten that in this battle many, many people fall into despair. We struggle against bad habits, selfishness, anger, anxiety, depression, carelessness, immaturity, not being able to control what we say, or what have you. When we don’t see the results we want, we fall into despair and think that we are hopeless which sometimes brings about a state of resignation to sins and ill behavior.

I think the mistake here is that we think we can do the changes ourselves. Of course the effort comes from us, but in the end it is Allah that changes the hearts for He is the changer of hearts as the Prophet (s) said يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ (O Changer of Hearts).

Our mistake therefore is believing that we have power on our own which if you think about it, is a form of idolatry and an affront to monotheism. Is it possible that in trying to change ourselves and believing that we can do it on our own, we are actually making things worse? Is it possible that with every step forward, we are taking ten steps back? Real power, real Tawheed is knowing that all power and capacity only lies with the All-Mighty. As the Qur’an says, لا حول ولاقوة إلا بالله (There is no power, no might and no capacity except with God).

Now on treating the dead heart: Who is it that brings non-being into being? Who is it that brings the dead back to life? Even if you are made out of stone, Allah will bring you back to life. As such, only God has the power to resurrect, not you, me or your spiritual teacher for your spiritual teacher or boss is himself/herself trying consciously or unconsciously to invoke God’s favor in his/her life.

Allah says in the Qur’an (Surah Israh, verse 57):

Those [saintly beings] whom they invoke are themselves striving to obtain their Sustainer’s favour –[even] those among them who are closest [to Him]

If our hearts are dead and made out of stone, it is the Resurrector who can bring it to life. So let us not despair. Although the path is an arduous and long one, the changes will come incrementally and the transformation will happen without you even noticing it.

How is this achieved? The Qur’an gives us a clue. In chapter Israh, verses 49-52, Allah (swt) states:

(49) And [thus, too,] they say, “After we will have become bones and dust, shall we, forsooth, be raised from the dead in a new act of creation?”

(50) Say: “[ You will be raised from the dead even though] you be stones or iron

(51) or any [other] substance which, to your minds, appears yet farther removed [from life]!” And [if] thereupon they ask, “Who is it that will bring us back [to life]?” – say thou: “He who has brought you into being in the first instance.” And [if] thereupon they shake their heads at thee [in disbelief] and ask, “When shall this be?” –say thou: “It may well be soon,

(52) on a Day when He will call you, and you will answer by praising Him, thinking all the while that you have tarried [on earth] but a little while.”

Death and resurrection are not only physical processes but are also spiritual and metaphysical. If we pay attention to the last verse, the secret of revival is right there. In order to be revived, we must answer God’s call by praising Him. Praising the All-Mighty is synonymous and at the very essence of being grateful to Him. It is a state of gratefulness that gives us the mental energy to carry on in this fallen and broken world. It is the longterm state of gratefulness that is the key to God’s reciprocation in resurrecting our dead souls.

Being grateful is one part. The second interlocked part is kindness. The verse after (52) tells us the following:

(53) AND TELL My servants that they should speak in the most kindly manner verily, Satan is always ready to stir up discord between men –for, verily, Satan is man’s open foe!

Satan is always trying to instill animosity, hatred, jealousy, and resentment among people. Lack of gratefulness leads to a sense of entitlement and lack of humility, and the sense of entitlement and lack of humility is what often breeds resentment and discord.

To be kind, one must repent to God. It is through real repentance that the sense of entitlement is removed thereby opening the heart to humility, gratefulness, kindness and love – even to those who have wronged us. With gratefulness and kindness to others, especially our enemies – namely those who bear ill-will against us – God’s Grace enters our lives and revives our dead hearts.

Waʿlaikum as-Salam,

Yours Faithfully
Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Imam of the SABA Islamic Center
San Jose, California

How To Make A Decision | By Nabi Raza Abidi

How To Make A Decision | By Nabi Raza Abidi

It isn’t always easy to make the correct decision, here are four questions you can ask yourself to help you make the right decisions in life.

By Nabi Raza Abidi

There is a common approach to worldly problems across religious communities – be they Muslim or Christian – that posits that we should leave everything to God and thus withhold any serious decision making. Although in principle the notion of “leaving everything to God” is true, its understanding has often been faulty. Some have understood the concept as meaning that no decision should be taken and that somehow God will do everything for us. Unfortunately, this an incentive for some to take the backseat and avoid tough decisions in life.

From an Islamic perspective, we as Muslims have been created by God and tasked to make important decisions. However, after we make the decisions, we leave the results to God – this is what we mean by “leaving everything to God”. This is – in part – one of the many aspects of tawakkul (reliance on God). Now the question here is how do we make decisions? In my view, there are four questions we should ask ourselves before making any decision, particularly important ones:

1) Is what I am doing permitted in Islam? Is it haram? Obviously if it is haram I should not consider it.
2) If it is halal, is it the wise thing to do?
3) Is this something I really want to do?
4) What are the long-term effects of this decision and what is the cost of going back on it, if possible at all?

It is not always easy to make the right decision and when we think we did, they sometimes don’t yield the kind of results we want. But remember, most of the time we can’t know with pinpoint accuracy what God really wants from us. What we are tested on is how compassionate and sincere our attempt is.

Waʿlaikum as-Salam,
Yours Faithfully
Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Imam of the SABA Islamic Center
San Jose, California