But if you don’t make smart plans, you will be all of those things.
Because you failed before you even began. That’s the harsh truth.
Creating a complete self-development plan is NOT supposed to be the most difficult thing in the world. It’s a simple straightforward task. But we equate it to climbing Mount Everest.
BTW, this is the fifth article of the entire Self-development in Islam series.
You can read the previous articles of the series by clicking the links below:
- Article 2: The Good Muslim Mindset: 20 Types of Muslim Mindsets that either MAKE or BREAK You (with Real Life Examples)
- Article 3: Islamic Thoughts: Practical Tips for Developing the Good Muslim Mindset (with a Free Cheatsheet)
Muslim B: “Umm… I’ll probably start with the complete Tafseer of the Quran from Ibn-e-Kathir.”
Muslim A: “That’s smart. Do you know I was awake till 2:00am last night making my plan? I missed Fajr again man, I feel bad.”
Muslim B: “Oh yeah, I missed it too. But its fine I guess since we were making Islamic plans.”
I hear that and I sigh loudly with exasperation.
Fiqh before fixing your Fard Salah? Cloudy plans over Fajr? Seriously?
There are so many things wrong with that conversation. Here are a few:
Why would you start with the study of Fiqh when you don’t even pray Fajr on-time regularly? Baffling.
# 2: It’s NOT supposed to be overwhelming or else you will bail out.
Al-Bidaya Wan-Nihaya, Tafseer Ibn-e-Kathir… can somebody please explain what’s going on here? Why would you study from such extensive sources when you should be starting with simple word-by-word translation of the Quran and Seerah of our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W?
I can understand why we all make grandiose plans because it gives us a sense of self-satisfaction.
Thinking about “great things we plan on doing” pumps up our ego. But deep-down we know that when things difficult we’ll probably drop our plans and continue as before. And the possibility of that is so difficult to face that we keep making these plans to quieten our conscience.
Look, guilt is not your ultimate goal. If not handled well, it can be a seriously harmful emotion that will drag you down with it.
You need to create realistic plans to be a better Muslim and actually follow through them.
With that said, I know how difficult it can be to plan and follow through especially when it comes to fighting against your Nafs.
So today I have a complete guide for you that will help you make your self-development plan from the start and direct you on how to scale upwards.
Areas of Self-Development
1. Ibadah; this includes all spiritual acts of worship such as prayer, fasts etc.
2. Islamic Knowledge; this area covers all the different branches of Islamic education that one can study such as Quran, Arabic, Fiqh, History etc.
3. Service/ helping others; this includes interpersonal relationships, giving back to the Muslim community and helping others in any way.
Before beginning, the MOST important thing to remember is- Your Islamic knowledge should help you practice all acts of worship in a better way.
Your knowledge should have a direct positive impact on both the other areas of self-development (If it’s not, then you need to re-evaluate yourself).
And your spiritual relationship with Allah should help you with your inter-personal relationships and gaining knowledge.
All of these areas are intertwined, with a directly proportional relationship with other areas.
But if I tell you to work on these areas ALL at once, you won’t be able to move further than a few steps forward before it gets too much and you drop everything.
So to make it easy for you, I’ve divided the different acts of Ibadah under 3 levels- Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.
This way you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly where you are presently and where you want to be, Insha’Allah.
It will help you cut through overwhelm and work on yourself slowly but surely. You’ll know exactly what your next step is. No puzzles. No confusion. And definitely NO over-loaded plans that have a volatile expiry date.
So here’s what you’re going to do:
You’re first going to assess your present stage as a Muslim. What level are you at? You could be starting at zero level (there’s no shame in admitting that- in fact, it takes a lot of courage to start there), or you could be a level ahead.
Each level is explained below. Study them thoroughly, then define your current level, your goals and exactly where you need to start. Be true to yourself.
LEVEL 1: BEGINNER
- 5 Obligatory (Fard prayers)
- Recitation of Quran (with or without proper Tajweed)
- Obligatory fasts of Ramadan
Note: I’m not including Zakat and Hajj here as they are not applicable for everyone (especially young Muslims starting out) but they are Fard acts of Ibadah and are included at this stage if applicable.
- Proper Tajweed of the Quran
- Translation of Quran (complete Quran at least once)
- Hifz of important shorter Surahs (Surahs that are recited in prayers such as Surah Falaq, Surah Teen etc.)
- Hadith (memorization of 40 hadith)
- Seerah of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W (read it from one authentic book at this stage. My personal preference is Raheeq-ul-Makhtum- The Sealed Nectar)
- Duas & Daily Azkaar
- Relationship with your parents, spouse & children
- Minor Dawah (immediate family members)
- Giving minor forms of charity (For e.g., helping family members, sharing food etc.)
LEVEL 2: INTERMEDIATE
Extra Nafal Prayers/ fasts & other forms of Ibadah (Salat-ul-Duha, Tahajjud etc.)
- Tafseer of Quran from a single reliable source (complete Quran at least once)
- Hifz of important longer Surahs (Surahs that Prophet Muhammad S.A.W recited day and night regularly such as Surah Yasin, Surah Mulk etc.)
- Studying word-by-word Arabic of the Quran
- Relationships with others (relatives, friends, neighbors etc.)
- Intermediate Dawah (close relatives, friends, social circle etc.)
- Giving minor as well as occasional major forms of charity (For e.g., giving money and/ or making donations etc.)
LEVEL 3: ADVANCED
It goes without saying that by this stage you should be regularly practicing all the things you learned in the BEGINNER and INTERMEDIATE stages.
Extra Nafal Prayers/ fasts & other forms of Ibadah (Salat-ul-Duha, Tahajjud etc.) When you progress as a Muslim, you try and make more of extra Sunnah acts of Ibadah a part of your daily routine.
- Tafseer of Quran from multiple reliable sources (and/ or complete Quran repeatedly)
- Complete Quran Hifz (starting Hifz with the intention of memorizing the whole of Quran).
- Studying detailed literary Arabic with Grammar (also includes reading Arabic literature to understand the deeper meanings of Quranic Ayahs).
- Other advanced fields of study (Fiqh, Islamic history etc.)
- Advanced Dawah (National or International level)
- Giving major forms of charity (For e.g., larger donations, helping refugees etc.)
A few personal tips to help you get started
* Pick one thing from each area at a time and work on it till it becomes almost effortless (I say “almost” because no act of Ibadah can be a 100% effortless as Shaiytan’s evil powers will always resist in one way or another).
* Start with the acts that you find relatively easy rather than jumping headfirst into the deep waters.
* ALWAYS make du’a that Allah S.W.T helps you. Every time you get stuck- make dua. Every time you’re overwhelmed- make dua. And you don’t always have to make dua from the Arabic dua books. In fact, you should also make dua in your own language.
* Don’t compare your present state with that of other Muslims. If you constantly look at other Muslims ahead of you, you’ll get depressed and lose out on motivation. If you constantly look at other Muslims behind you, you’ll become arrogant and static.
* Treat yourself every time you advance. Every act of worship that you practice is a MUCH bigger achievement than acing your college exams. You deserve a healthy treat!
* Surround yourself with positive people who are at the same level as you or a level ahead of you. Compete with them in a healthy Sunnah way as well as help them move forward (no- that’s not counter-intuitive, it’s possible to do both).
Wrapping up… What can you expect from this Self-Development In Islam series?
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