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Welcome. Things are different here.
This site is not about increasing your potential; It’s about enriching you.
What you will find here, you will struggle to find elsewhere and in the next few pages, I will “reframe” you reality… not too much, but enough to give you some big “ah-ha!” moments.
You probably browse the net and read a lot.
There are millions of pages and videos online, hundreds of courses teaching Arabic and Islamic fiqh (religious rulings)… but you haven’t really come across a place that teaches you HOW to change.
Islamically, change starts with the self and the art of changing yourself is called Tazkiyah.
Tazkiyah is a truly amazing subject. It’s also a very misunderstood subject; it’s misunderstandings leading some to confusion and at times depression 🙁
[more on that in a while]
To give you an idea of what true Tazkiyah is I want to tell you two different short stories, one about Sarah and the other about Bilal.
These are real-fictional stories…. meaning, the characters are made up but the stories are real, you’ll find out what I mean as you continue to read.
Let’s start with Bilal.
Bilal has spent the last 5 years attending weekend seminars, watching inspirational talks on YouTube, discussing the state of the ummah and all of its ailments and faults.
He gets that inspirational high from learning something new but he isn’t changing or growing.
With tons of notes and folders from the hundreds of hours spent vegetating for knowledge, he finds that what he learns evaporates quickly and he hasn’t applied much of it.
At first, he wanted to learn so that he could make the world a better place, but the more he learned the more he would delay action and instead think that he needed to increase his capacity by increasing his knowledge.
It started with a university Islamic Society/Association lecture where the invited speaker gave such a passionate, eloquent speech where each emotional nail was hit on the head. Bilal mistook the highs of inspiration for spirituality… and it was some high.
Now, 5 years on, he hadn’t changed the world… nor himself – except for the many hours he’d spent learning – and he feels disappointed in himself.
But the highs of knowledge dopamine and the culture around these knowledge scenes is addictive.
And like every addiction it allows him to deny his reality, to suppress his emotions whilst enjoying his drug of choice – knowledge. He thinks that by doing the same, somehow something new will happen.
You see, whilst it sounds nice to be told that more knowledge gives more power, it’s just NOT true and I’ll explain that very shortly.
In reality, too much knowledge usually results in procrastination, not power.
Bilal once went on a retreat where he had to say SubhanAllah 10,000 times in one weekend. He felt super-charged, mighty, cleansed and spiritually high.
He returned to the UK and after 3 days or so, he regretted going. The contrast between the high that he had experienced and the mundaneness of his normal life was overwhelming and it made him thoroughly depressed.
Bilal loves to advise everyone else and sometimes his advice is actually pretty awesome. He feels good for a while whilst he’s advising, whilst he’s centre of attention.
But later, he feels like a fraud. How come he could advise others and they would benefit… and yet he couldn’t change himself.
He didn’t know what he was looking for anymore, just that he wasn’t happy with himself or anything else. He was becoming more and more bitter over the years.
Deep down, he not only resented change but also feared it.
He had spent so much time, money and effort for so long… being lured by promises made by different people and organisations… so many courses promising to change his life in a weekend.
Promises that if he just learned Arabic then he would feel awesome, subtle suggestions that it was impossible to really understand The Quran and act upon it – unless he spent so much time learning Arabic.
He had done his part, he had learned Arabic, he understood much of The Quran as he read it, but he still didn’t feel like he was changing. Worse, he realised that much of what he understood from reading The Quran in Arabic, he could have understood by reading a decent translation.
So… that’s Bilal and there are millions of Bilals out there.
Now it’s time to meet Sarah.
Sarah isn’t like Bilal. Sarah doesn’t believe in silver bullets and she doesn’t follow the crowd.
Whilst she understands the importance of knowledge, she knows that the book is only as useful as your capacity to understand it.
She focuses on herself first. She purifies herself: her thoughts and emotions. She understands that the more she grows, the more she can do.
Sarah had this realisation around 5 years ago, at the time that Bilal started his journey… but whereas Bilal now feels more depressed than ever before, Sarah keeps feeling lighter and freer.
She goes to some courses, but not at the cost of her tazkiyah. She’s more strategic.
Most importantly, she doesn’t attend courses to overcome some nagging feeling, to get another shot of knowledge dopamine or to distract herself from how she feels inside.
She goes fresh, the knowledge she hears and sees isn’t regurgitated inside… inside she notices how she reacts to that knowledge and she works on herself, finding deep profound insights that were never taught to her.
It’s easy for her to remember what she was taught because it usually results in profound change inside of her. Each course liberates her more.
Some courses she doesn’t even bother with, she can tell that they’re just hype. She attended a Muslim Leadership course once and was sorely disappointed that anyone would go to something like that seeking leadership after a weekend.
She had thought that it would teach humility, planning, strategy, and influence. Instead, it was just one big motivational-buzz with the constant reminder of the importance of leadership – which she and everyone there already knew… that’s why they were there, in the first place!
But it didn’t matter. She noticed what bugged her about the program and she worked on herself, deepening her insights IN SPITE of the shambles that that course was.
It wasn’t always like this for Sarah, for a little while she was a course maniac too. But she quickly saw the short-term tactical underpinning of them and became far more strategic.
She’s changed a lot in the last 5 years and grown much and she looks happier and more tranquil. Difficulties afflict her as they afflict everyone else, but they feel different to her. She’s in control, instead of how she used to feel – like a feather in a storm.
She used to have a nasty habit that she kept hidden from others. It quickly dissolved as she gained more and more freedom and she’s smart enough to keep it in her past without telling people about it. She feels grateful that Allah never humiliated her.
For Sarah, the outside is only a reminder to cleanse what’s on the inside. It’s no longer the reason why she is happy or sad.
Sarah knows that growth is a process, not an event.
Bilal is attracted to every new shiny object (course) he can get his hands on.
Sarah is comfortable alone because she feels comfortable with herself.
Bilal has to have the company of other Bilals. Together they distract themselves from their failures.
Any Bilal can become a Sarah, but hardly any of them chose to start her journey… because in reality, it’s just not as sexy or entertaining. They prefer their silver bullets, following the crowd and all the buzz that comes with that.
Now I want to talk about some of the misunderstandings that people have about tazkiyah and how it can sometimes lead to depression.
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