The Prophet said, “O Allah You have made my creation perfect, so make my moral characteristics also be the best.” [Bulugh al-Maram]
There is so much to learn from this simple act of the Prophet Muhammad ; from remembering Allah at all times, to the fact that He didn’t ask for more beauty to his features, rather he praised Allah for what he already has, and then he focused on asking Allah to beautify his character in the best way.
There has always been an emphasis on beautifying our character in our religion. The Prophet said:
“Nothing is heavier on the believer’s Scale on the Day of Judgment than good character.” [Jami’ at-Tirmidhi]
‘Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah , said, “Allah does not look at your figures, nor at your attire but He looks at your hearts and accomplishments.”’ [Sahih Muslim]
So, focusing consciously every day on improving and beautifying the state of the heart helps us attain good character and increases our overall productivity.
Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Beautifying the inner thoughts
1. Pay attention to/discipline your inner thoughts
“And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein’”[Quran, Chapter 50, Verse 16]
“And conceal your speech or publicize it; indeed, He is Knowing of that within the breasts.’ [Quran: Chapter 67, Verse 13]
Isn’t it amazing that even the thoughts that occur in our minds are known to Allah ! Be it good or bad, Allah knows. Our mind is like a reel, constantly playing thoughts in our head. It is our duty to play it and control it steering it to the right direction.
Many times, after an incident, for example, we tend to have assumptions about the incident or the person involved; it could be as simple as your employee breaking your favorite teacup. What is the immediate thought that comes after? ‘Why did she have it the first place? Was she intending to steal it? Couldn’t she have been more careful if she was handling it? But do we have good thoughts like, ‘never mind, it’s just a teacup.’
This is a simple example of many incidences in our day to day lives. We think a lot, and we add to our thoughts without realizing.
People are in either our ‘bad list’ or our ‘good list’. When we keep adding these thoughts to our bad list for the people we think we don’t like, we are only increasing on our own mental burden. It is in these times, we need to look for the good in people, and forget their wrong because this only imprisons us and we chain ourselves to those miseries. We need to unlock and free ourselves so that we can move on. And only those who are busy looking at their own mistakes will be capable of doing this.
Has it ever happened to you that one action of someone disturbs your entire day? Why does this happen? We let it consume our thoughts, constantly delve into it and are unable to focus on the rest of our tasks. Sometimes, it even affects our mood and enthusiasm for other tasks that are irrelevant to this matter! Unload this burden first, and see what a difference it makes to your day.
When we feel accountable to Allah for the thoughts we have within, we consciously judge the matter with wisdom; does this deserve our negativity in the first place? Instead of holding grudges and having misunderstandings, if we practiced husn ad dhan (having good thoughts), it would make our hearts lighter, and assist us in focusing on other aspects of life, hence, increasing our productivity, happiness, and mental well-being.
As Muslims, we have a bigger purpose in life, and so we must not waste our time on indulging in little matters, but rather move on and keep working for the sake of Allah ; rest assured, Allah rewards us and takes care of the matter in the most beautiful of ways, His way. This is only possible if we clear our hearts of hatred, anger, and negativity and focus on beautifying it with good thoughts, and positivity.
In addition, this not only increases our productivity but also improves our relationships with fellow beings and relatives.
2. Remember the good in others and experience Allah’s Name Ash-Shakoor
That moment when someone angers you or tests your patience, remember the good in them. This reminds me of Allah’s beautiful name Ash-Shakoor– The Most Appreciative The Most Grateful. Allah says,
“That He may give them in full their rewards and increase for them of His bounty. Indeed, He is Forgiving and Appreciative. “[Qur’an: Chapter 35, Verse 30]
What does Allah have to be grateful for when He is the One to whom we are all grateful? Allah calls Himself Ash-Shakoor – The Most Appreciative, The Most Grateful, the Rewarder of good deeds. He is the One who gives abundantly, in response to little. He appreciates the smallest of deeds with unlimited appreciation. He even appreciates our intentions!
He is ever Appreciative of every emotion you go through for His sake; when being tested and you are patient for His sake, He is appreciative. When in blessing, if you are grateful, He increases you in favor. If Allah , our Creator and Sustainer is so Appreciative, how grateful do we humans have to be?
Another way we can live with His name, Ash-Shakoor, is by asking Him to help us not to be ungrateful to others and ourselves. Our parents have done innumerable favors upon us since birth, and yet in that one moment when they don’t agree with us, we rage with fury and anger and forget all our gratefulness to them. Ask Allah by His name, Ash-Shakoor, to help you never be ungrateful to those who deserve your appreciation, even at moments when they test your patience; just as you would want Allah to appreciate ALL of your efforts, even when you make a mistake!
Beautifying the actions
1. Be conscious of every deed, and increase in small acts of kindness
“[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving” [Qur’an, Chapter 67, Verse 2]
The purpose of the entire creation is mentioned in this one verse – it is to test us which of us is ‘best in deeds’.
When we tend to focus on our own mistakes rather than others, we become conscious of all our deeds. Once we purify a vessel – here the vessel is our heart – we add good and beautiful things into it. So, add to your scales by beautifying every simple act in the best of ways and with excellence. Simple examples would be, easing the work for your workers with a smile, helping parents in little things without them asking you, or verbally forgiving someone when they have wronged you.
Ihsan (excellence) in deeds will purify the heart, make it feel lighter, and again, help us remain focused on our tasks. This is the ultimate aid in productivity, as you have a clear mind, renewed intentions and happier heart to complete your day-to-day work.
2. Let the Qur’an expand your day and increase it in blessings
Believe in the words of Allah when He says,
“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah . Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” [Qur’an, Chapter 13, Verse 28]
How often have you wished for more time during the day? The Qur’an miraculously expands your time. The Qur’an is the greatest form of dhikr (remembrance).
“And this [Qur’an] is a Book We have revealed [which is] blessed (Mubarak), so follow it and fear Allah that you may receive mercy.” [Qur’an, Chapter 6, Verse 155]
Allah describes the Qur’an as Mubarak, the one that has barakah. The more we include the Qur’an in our lives, the more barakah there is during the day! All it needs is your attention, conscious continuous attention every single day be it even for 10 minutes (Make that the daily minimum!)
If half an hour on Facebook passes as a breeze, then what about ten minutes to give to reciting the Qur’an for rewards, blessings, expansion of heart and time and inner peace?
Simply ponder over the verses, or read a commentary, or recite, or listen but give ten minutes minimum to the Qur’an and watch it unfold its secrets to you. Giving time to the Qur’an keeps you connected to Allah , making it more likely that you will consciously avoid sinning. It also aids in clearing our minds of unnecessary things, hence achieving clarity and peace. The Qur’an is light, and when this light enters the heart, it will be focused and steered in the right direction, leading it to achieve its purpose in life.
3. Consciously make dhikr a daily habit and reap the fruits of remembrance
An additional way to beautify our minds is to constantly remember Allah with other forms of remembrance. We learn from the seerah of the Prophet Muhammad that there was not a moment he would not remember Allah . There are duas/athkaar for every moment, from sighting the new moon to feeling a breeze of wind. When we train our minds to keep on reflecting on the signs of Allah , on His love and wisdom in every situation, our minds become accustomed to good thoughts, leading to a lighter, more beautiful heart.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Shall I not inform you of the best of your actions which are the purest to your Rubb, which exalt you to the high ranks, which are more efficacious than spending gold and silver (in charity), and better for you than you should encounter your enemies whom you will smite their necks and they will smite your necks?” They said, “Certainly.” He (ﷺ) said, “Remembrance of Allah the Exalted.” [At-Tirmidhi]
In short, to achieve a high level of productivity, our hearts need to be light and beautiful, to do that, the following are indispensable must-dos for this goal:
1. Consciously work on beautifying your heart: focus on your inner thoughts; train yourself to think good of people, focus on your own mistakes so you don’t have time for theirs and increase in the remembrance of Allah .
2. Focus on beautifying your actions: work on how you can do each and every little deed with excellence and purify your intentions for Allah’s sake.
3. Capitalize on reciting the Qur’an: no matter how busy you are, give it at least ten minutes consistently every single day. It will not only add barakah to your time but also increase your focus, productivity and overall satisfaction and peace.
Now, tell us, have you struggled with following these tips before? what do you do to not allow your heart to be absorbed in the daily routines? how do you consciously work on beautifying your character every day?
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