For me, Ramadan 2015 has brought with it many spiritual lessons and I wanted to share a few of them with you, with the intention that, regardless of your belief, you may gain some benefits from these insights:
1) The world will not always work on your schedule:
In Ramadan, we fast from sunlight to sunset. Regardless of whether we are hungry or thirsty, we cannot eat or drink during those hours. Likewise, in life, there will be times when life does not follow our schedule, when we want to do something, but just cannot. Conversely, there will be times when we don’t want to do something but have to. In the same way that Ramadan doesn’t follow our schedule, life doesn’t follow our schedule and sometimes we need to slow-down or speed-up according to the circumstances around us.
2) You must have a bigger purpose:
The only reason why over a billion people can fast so long is their belief in a bigger purpose than themselves. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a mother, a public servant etc, unless you have a bigger purpose, a reason why you are doing what you are doing, you will not have the strength or the energy to persevere when the difficulties come your way.
3) The bigger your passion, the easier it is:
Continuing from the previous point, the deeper our passion and belief, the easier Ramadan is for us. In life, it’s very easy and tempting to follow the conventional path, the path that we have been advised to follow. However, by following that path, and not our own, we will indeed find much more difficulties as life tries to move us back towards our core purpose. Begin with your passion to find your purpose, then build your life around that purpose and you will find life to be much more easier and rewarding than you could ever have dreamed possible.
4) Momentum is key:
At the start of Ramadan, we worry about how we will manage to get through Ramadan, the long and hot days. However, as we are now getting towards the end of Ramadan, we barely feel our fasts. What was at first difficult is now normal, what was once uncomfortable is now within our comfort zone. Likewise in life, what may at first seemed difficult will become normal and then, ultimately, comfortable.
5) The Power of Habit:
Habits are the key to lifelong success and Ramadan is the month in which we develop and strengthen our spiritual habits. By maintaining a habit for 30 days, it becomes second nature. If there is something you need to do but have difficulty doing, turn it into a habit so then it just automatically gets done.
6) We all have the same needs:
Regardless of whether we are a king or a pauper, we all feel the same pangs of hunger and thirst. At the end of the day, no matter how wealthy or successful we are, we all share the same satisfaction of breaking our fast and the refreshing feeling of having some cold water and a date. We all, as humans, regardless of our position, background or even belief system, have the same needs and when we realize this, then we can start to live in unity and peace.
7) Resistance is essential to growth:
In the same way that a muscle can only grow when it faces resistance, we can only grow spiritually and personally when we face challenges. Ramadan is the month in which we face the most challenges and, as a result, we grow the most. Welcome challenges as they carry with them the seeds of growth.
8) Learning to say No is more important than saying Yes:
In Ramadan, we have to say No to a lot of things. We say no to food even when we are hungry but it is still daylight. We must say no to our thirst. We say no to those acts which are sinful. We say no to that which does not serve our spiritual growth. By saying no, we are left with that which benefits us and, it is only by saying no, that we have the time, attention and focus to dedicate to that which serves our higher purpose.
9) Give to get:
Ramadan is a month in which we give. We give 30 days to Allah by fasting and worshiping him. We give 1 in 40 of our wealth to charity. However, we always find that Allah is Khairul-Razekeen (the greatest giver of all) and indeed, only he can give us what we truly need and, when we asked purely, he gives abundantly. We often ask and do not receive, due to the fact that we are either asking with the wrong intention or in the wrong way. By giving sincerely, we will receive abundantly.
May Allah give us all strength, regardless of our belief, to live a life that is bigger than our own, to serve others in a way that is greater than our own and to have patience and perseverance in following our own passions, for within them lies the greatest life we can possibly imagine.
Ask for more to give more. Give more to get more. Get more to give even more. Give even more to get even more. The cycle of spiritual growth, what you have is the seed, what you give is the fruit and what we ask for is that the seed grows to give us enough fruit for ourselves and others.
As over a billion people are observing the month of Ramadan, I thought I’d share some spiritual significance regarding this month, as, after all, we may share different beliefs, but we share the same spirituality.
Just a child is born in the 9th month of pregnancy, Ramadan is the 9th month of the Muslim Calendar and is the month of Re-birth.
We are re-born on 4 levels, an internal level, an external level, a social level and a spiritual level.
Whereas every other month of the year is about external muscle and resource, where we use our body and external fuel, Ramadan is a month in which we really appreciate what we have inside us, our will power, our resoluteness, our commitment and our ability to transcend the needs of our body, which we find can still function and equip itself just as well. Ramadan is a month of inner re-birth and, through this, the foundation of outer re-birth is laid, as private (inner) victory always proceeds public (outer victory).
Only when we have conquered our internal world and have the ability to fully harness our internal capacity, can external re-birth be possible. Just as a plant needs to develop its roots below ground before it can grow above the surface, likewise, external success can only come when our internal root system is developed.
Ramadan is the month in which this root system is developed. We literally shut-off from external influence (food, drink, negative habits and negative talk) so that the focus remain internal, on developing those capacities of will-power, endurance and resourcefulness that will be so crucial for our ahead.
Ramadan is a month of Social Re-birth as it is an opportunity to see everyone as they are once again. Just as on Hajj, everyone dresses the same regardless of status and wealth, Ramadan reminds us that we all share the same human needs, of food and water, of warmth and security.
The feeling of relief when you break your fast is universal, whether a king is breaking their fast or a slave is breaking their fast and this appreciation that we are all the same and have the same basic needs, and the actual experience of this, ensures that we leave this month of Ramadan with a much more balanced viewpoint of everyone else.
Lastly, on the most important level, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said that this world is just the womb for the next world, our final world, our permanent home.
The Holy Month of Ramadan, the 9th month of the Muslim calendar and is Allah’s month and it is a reminder to us that just as we were born in the 9th month, our creator, without whom we could not be born, is the one whom we dedicate the 9th month of our year to.
We hold firmly the belief that just as we were born into this world in the 9th month, Allah will, after our death, raise us to heaven as we leave this womb (our temporary home) and move towards our real home.
However, the imperative question is how do we do this?
I often get asked this question by my clients and I always give them the example of how Islam was formed and has grown to a religion that now ¼ of the world’s population believes in (1.25 billion people).
When Islam was formed, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), his wife Khadija (AS) and his cousin Ali (AS) were the first 3 Muslims. However, they did not go and start telling others about Islam immediately.
In fact, for the first 8 years, Islam only had 3 Muslims. During this time, the Quran was revealed slowly to the Prophet (SAW) and the faith was conceptualized, improved and recorded.
As entrepreneurs, we are natural action takers. However, we are also instant result wanters as well. The truth is that build a truly successful and world-class product or service takes time to refine and perfect and it is important that this is done before it is released to the world so that when it is released to the world, your target audience is blown away by its brilliance.
Every Muslim is aware of the Pillars of Islam, that simplify the faith and make it very easy to follow. This was, of course, achieved due to the fact that for so many years, Islam was improved and conceptualized before being released to the world.
Similarly in your business, structure is key. I always tell my clients:
‘The more structured your thinking is, the more structured your product will be,
The more structured your product is, the easier it will be to get apply,
The more easier it is to apply, the more it will be applied,
The more it is applied, the more results your clients will get
The more results your clients will get, the happier they will be, the more they willing to spend with you, the more likely they will be to join your higher level program and the more they will refer others to you’
As you can see, this all comes from structure, which is the foundation of any business.
As I also mentioned earlier, entrepreneurs are natural action takers and it is often difficult for someone with this personality trait to do this as it is not in their natural skillset.
Specifically for this reason, allow yourself extra time to do this or hire a mentor who can help you do this much quicker.
Due to the amount of programs my team and I have structured, we can literally structure a high ticket 8 week course in under an hour (it’s hard work and we did several last week!) and it’s a skill that increases the more that you do it.
The Prophet (SAW) said that Islam was revealed to save mankind. Could there be a bigger problem to solve?
The truth is, you will get paid according to the problem you solve. By solving a small problem, you will be paid a small amount and by solving a big problem, you will be paid a larger amount.
Many of my clients come to me with 2 or 3 ideas unsure of which to proceed with. I always say to follow your heart as the more passion you have for a subject or solution and the more you will put into it. With this, you will improve faster and soon start solving larger problems and, as you start solving larger problems, you will be rewarded higher.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was not a popular figure in Makkah at the time, due to the fact that Islam was greatly opposed to paganism and Makkah, at that time, was a large hub for pagans to come to. As a result, the elders saw the Prophet (SAW) and Islam as a great commercial threat as this would stop the large influx of pagan worshippers.
When you start your business, you will also cause a few ripples in your marketplace as you settle in to it. Our goal, as entrepreneurs, is to bring something new and exciting to the marketplace, something that is one step ahead of what is currently available.
Due to this, we will face opposition, competition and challenge. We will be the David who has to sleigh Goliath (which is exactly why we need to do the hard work and preparation before releasing ourselves to the world to give our David the greatest chance in this).
In Islam, the word ‘Alhamdolillah’ means thanks to Allah. The first surat of the Quran begins with the word Alhamdolillah and the name of the prophet MuHAMmad (SAW) has the route word ‘Hamd’ in it. As a result of this, it is very evident that gratitude is a large cornerstone of Islam.
Building a successful business is a marathon and not a sprint. Many start but few finish.
The reason why is simple, most don’t celebrate the small victories, as these small victories are what fuel you towards the next one.
Be thankful for every client and celebrate every deal. Then the marathon of struggle will become the marathon of gratitude and it’s much easier to complete the second than the first.
If the Prophet (SAW) wanted Islam to only have 3 followers, he would not have spent the time preparing and laying the foundations that he did.
The Prophet (SAW) instead thought very big and his intention was to create something that the whole world would benefit from forever.
When you ask most entrepreneurs, they say that in a year I want to be doing this, this and this.
I encourage you to think bigger:
– In 10 years what will you be doing?
– In 50 years what will you be doing?
– On the day of your funeral what will you be known for?
– 500 years after you have left this Earth and one of your descendants has a school project and they research you, what will they find about you?
Most entrepreneurs suffer from shiny object syndrome, which I simply call lack of focus syndrome. The easiest way to solve this is to think big and, in doing so, you will find the path you will follow for the rest of your life and never need to change it.
When the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) formed Islam and was faced with so much opposition, violent opposition that literally wanted to kill him and destroy Islam, he needed his faith.
In business, we will face many challenges – the month that we struggle to meet payroll, the time when a new competitor enters the market, a failed product launch, a difficult client etc.
However, at this time, we will need our faith to pull us through and without it, we may easily give in.
Being an entrepreneur is the most challenging and exciting profession in the world as we are literally transforming the world with our creation. As a result of this, we will have many who appreciate our work, are impacted by it and, if we are lucky, whose lives are changed by it. This is our greatest gift and, if we apply it well, we may one day build something that positively improves the lives of billions of people.
– A baby chicken eats by pecking at the ground and finding what scraps it can. When a chicken is fully grown, it cannot fly very well and can barely get off the ground.
– An baby eagle is fed directly into its mouth by its mother. When an eagle is fully grown, it sours higher than any bird in the sky.
The difference between having a mentor is the difference between being an eagle or a chicken. You can either hope to find small pieces of information here and there or you can have the right person feed you their experience, systems and strategies directly.
In order to find the right mentor, there are a few things to consider:
M = Mindset
The most important ingredient in any good mentor is their ability to shift your mindset. Our growth is determined by our mindset and the moment our mindset grows, every aspect of our life will follow with it.
E = Energy
Everything is energy and it is crucial that there is the right energy between you and your mentor. If it feels right, it will be right. If it doesn’t feel right, find another mentor. We are often told to trust our gut feeling, but instead, trust your heart feeling as that’s the source of wisdom that will feel if the energy is right or wrong for you.
N = Now
A mentor is someone you want to be by your side through thick and thin. A great way to gauge this is by how quickly they respond to you, if they respond to you now, you can trust that they will be there for you when you need them the most.
T = Trust
A mentor is someone who you will build a strong bond with and share details that you wouldn’t normally share with others. If your mentor isn’t trustworthy, then those details that are shared with you in confidence will be shared to others. Always have a mentor you can trust.
O = Opportunity
A mentor should be someone who can see a bigger picture than you can. They should also, through experience, be able to see opportunities that you can’t see. When considering who to mentor you, make sure that they can already see new opportunities that you couldn’t, as by seeing and taking opportunities is the only way to grow.
R = Relatability
One of the most important aspects to consider is if your mentor can relate to you. Can they see what challenges you face, what issues you are having to overcome, what obstacles you need help to overcome. Unless your mentor can relate to you and your journey, then how can they help?
Having the right mentor is the fastest and simplest route to success. However, having the wrong mentor is the fastest and simplest route to failure.
Therefore, the most important decision you have to face is not should I have a mentor or not, as everyone needs a mentor, but is this the right mentor for me?
I call this the great paradox:
Do what is easy and your life will be hard. Do what is hard and your life will be easy.
Isn’t it amazing that whenever we choose something hard, the resources, ideas, connections and spiritual and physical strength we needed always becomes available to us.
This world was created for those who want to rise and whenever someone makes that decision to rise from doing what’s easy to doing what’s hard – everything that you need to do this is given to you.
The world is waiting for people who choose the hard route and rewards them abundantly.
Which will you choose today – doing what’s hard or doing what’s easy?
The Prophet (SAW) said ‘your mother’.
The person asked the prophet who you should love second in the world.
The Prophet (SAW) said ‘your mother’.
The person then asked the prophet who you should love third in the world.
The Prophet (SAW) said ‘your mother’.
The person then asked the prophet who you should love fourth in the world.
The Prophet (SAW) said ‘your father’.
If there was any words to show how precious our mothers are, this is it.
Our mothers are angels on earth, they protect us, nurture us, teach us, feel our pain more than we do and enjoy our victories more than anyone else.
A wise man once asked that if Mothers and Fathers are so valuable, why do we just celebrate them on one day? Why is there mothers day and fathers day? Shouldn’t it just be every day?
Thank-you to all the mothers in this world. Where will we be without them!
One day, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was walking and he met a man who was walking with a camel.
‘Where are you going?’ The Prophet (SAW) asked.
‘I’m returning home from work.’ He replied.
‘If that is genuinely the case, you have done a very spiritual deed.’ The Prophet (SAW) told him.
We often live our lives in a very compartmentalised ways. When we work, we work. When we play, we play. When we are praying and serving, we are praying and serving.
The message that the Prophet (SAW) was giving to us is that we should not live that way. When we work, why not work in such a way that it is also play (as we are so passionate about it) and in a way that we are being spiritual and serving as much as we can.
Why not, for a day, try not to compartmentalise your day and, instead of living life in parts (part work, part fun, part service, part prayer, part contribution, part learning etc), live FULLY so that you’re experiencing it all in one time, together?
I have recently started to live by a very simple and easy rule:
‘Give everyone I encounter a gift’
Although this seems difficult to do, it is very easy, as we all have so much we can give.
It doesn’t have to be a large gift or even one of monetary value, it can be something as simple as a kind word, a few minutes to help them with an idea, a smile or, in many cases, just as a prayer.
More importantly, it doesn’t matter if they say thank-you verbally as they have, indeed, given you the greatest gift of being able to give to them.
Many would say, but why give so much? Won’t you end up with less?
Experience has taught me the opposite. There isn’t a small pie that we should all aim to get a small pie, instead, if we all focussed on making the pie bigger, we would naturally, all get more of it anyway.
Many would also say, but why give to someone who can’t give you back? Isn’t entrepreneurship all about a value exchange?
It most definitely is, but where most people fail is that they mistakenly think it’s about an immediate value exchange. In truth, you will often find that your best clients that are the greatest joy to work with are the ones you have taken the time to nurture and build a relationship with. I always like to give the analogy of the tide, the tide is not high all of the time, it is also low, sometimes it is in, sometimes it is out. Likewise, in business, sometimes you will be the one giving and not receiving immediately, but like the tide, it will soon turn and you will be blessed with abundance.
Furthermore, many more would say, but what if I don’t get anything back from that person?
It’s a universal law that as you reap, so you shall sew. You may not get back from that same person, but you will always get back abundantly, it has to happen, just as night follows day.
Many people overcomplicate business by separating it from life.
The truth is, business is a part of life.
Start by giving a prayer, that will encourage you to give a smile.
Then give a smile, that will encourage you to give a good word.
Then give a good word, that will encourage you to give advice.
Then give advice from the heart, this will win you clients.
Clients will ultimately give you the business, lifestyle and ability to truly express and inspire in others what you want to achieve and the motivation to to go even further than you thought possible.
It’s amazing how simple things are when we break them down into smaller pieces. It’s amazing to think how many businesses started with a prayer and grew into something even the person creating it could not imagine.