Do You Possess These Seven Habits?
I’m sure you’ve read or at least heard of the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” This was a great book that transformed the self-help industry and launched Stephen Covey to international fame. Some time later, Bilal Phillips gave a lecture entitled “7 Habits of Highly Successful People.” (The video to this lecture is posted below). This talk was based on the following Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):
There are seven whom Allah will shade in His Shade on the Day when there is no shade except His Shade: a just ruler; a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic; a man whose heart is attached to the mosques; two men who love each other for Allah’s sake, meeting for that and parting upon that; a man who is called by a woman of beauty and position [for illegal intercourse], but be says: ‘I fear Allah’, a man who gives in charity and hides it, such that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives in charity; and a man who remembered Allah in private and so his eyes shed tears. Related by Bukhari
With this spirit, I’d like to list some of the great habits you’ll find in highly effective Muslims. These are not necessarily religious duties per se. But you’ll see that they are great habits to be found in the best Muslims with encouragement from the Quran and Sunnah.
1. They Remember Their sins
Some people fall into the habit of judging others by their sins while forgetting their own. They may not even think the sins they’ve committed are all that bad. This is a sign of weak Muslim.
A believer sees his sins as if he were sitting under a mountain which he is afraid may fall on him, whereas the wicked person considers his sins as flies passing over his nose and he just drives them away like this. Related in Bukhari
Of course, if you see someone doing wrong, you should advise him or her to change their behavior. But don’t become arrogant or prideful because you are not committing that sin. In fact, you should reflect on the sins you have committed and turn to Allah for repentance. Who knows? Perhaps that person is doing something else that Allah loves. And perhaps you are doing something else that Allah hates. By constantly remembering and being mindful of the sins you commit, you will be more inclined to repent, change your behavior, and do good deeds to make up for them, Inshallah.
2. They Mind Their Business
People like to think that only women engage in gossip. I can tell you from experience, that is not true. Muslim men can be some of the worst gossipers and backbiters around. And this is unfortunate given how many warnings there are of such horrible behavior. How do people fall into gossiping and backbiting? By not minding their own business. These people hear a rumor or a tale, and before the next prayer comes in, they’ve spread it to a dozen other people. And then those people turn around and do the same thing. If only we would remember what Allah says in His book:
And do not obey every worthless habitual swearer. (And) scorner going about with malicious gossip. A preventer of good, transgressing and sinful. Chapter 68 verses 10-12
These are some pretty strong words coming from our Lord condemning this behavior. So, rather than mind other folks’ business, and spread rumors, tales and gossip, how about we just tend to our own affairs? Are they not complicated enough to keep us busy for a lifetime?
3. They Say What is Good
This goes hand in hand with the previous habit. Whereas Habit #2 was just to mind your own business and not say evil, Habit #3 is encouragement to say good.
Anyone who believes in Allah and the last day, should speak good or keep quiet. Related in Bukhari
There you have it. Advice directly from the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) telling us to say something good or shut up. I don’t mean to put it so bluntly but that’s the gist of it. This advice doesn’t just mean speak good of people. It means to speak good about everything. Here are some examples:
- Rather than complain, be grateful and praise Allah for what you have.
- Rather than be boastful, once again, be grateful and praise Allah for what He’s given you.
- Rather than criticize, advise and compliment on the good someone does.
Have you ever noticed how a negative person, who always has negative things to say, also seems to always bring a negative feeling with them? It’s like negativity is contagious. They are always complaining, nagging, and criticizing. Don’t be like that person. When you think about it, saying something good is really not all that difficult. When you’re about to say something bad or negative, try to think of something good (or at least neutral) to say. And if you can’t, just shut up.
4. They Keep Good Company
If you want to fulfill the previous three habits, you should be around people who want the same. You’ll find yourself very ineffective if you’re always surrounded by people who think they’re better than others, are always minding other people’s business, and cannot say good. So if you’re serious about becoming an effective Muslim, you should take a close look at the people you spend time with. If you can convince them to change their ways, that is best. But if not, maybe it’s time to find new friends. Consider the following Hadith:
A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace. Related in Bukhari
Once again, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is giving it to us in a clear and beautiful manner. If you hang around good people, that goodness will rub off on you. If you hang around negative people, that same negativity will rub off on you, and may eventually lead you astray. So if you don’t want to get burnt, find some good friends.
5. They Do Not Procrastinate
I’m going to have to come clean here. I am very often a big procrastinator. And the funny thing is, whenever I procrastinate, things turn out worse than if I had done it immediately in the first place. Though I sometimes put off doing things that are important in my daily life, I rarely put off religious duties. However, this is a problem that many Muslims have.
- How many people owe days of fasting from the last Ramadan but put them off for months? Some people have to rush to get these days in just weeks or even days before the next Ramadan begins.
- How many people have money and the health to make Hajj but wait years and years to make it? Some people wait until they reach old age and have to to visit the Kaaba with multiple illnesses and difficulties.
- How many people routinely procrastinate in making their daily prayers? The best of these procrastinators rush to get their prayer in before time is out. The worst completely miss the prayers due solely to procrastination.
Procrastinating in your daily duties is bad enough. Please don’t procrastinate with the orders of Allah.
6. They Put Their Trust in Allah
There are many verses in the Quran instructing us to put our trust in Allah. But I’m going to only quote one of them:
And (Allah) will provide for him from where he does not expect. And puts their trust in Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a (decreed) measure. Chapter 65 verse 3
Well, there you got it; straight from The Creator. If you put your trust in Allah, then He is all you need. We often fall into the trap of putting our trust in the creation. We ask help from people who cannot help us. We complain to people who have no authority. Instead, we should seek help and complain to Allah Almighty. Of course, if you do need assistance and you know of someone who has the ability to help, it is okay to ask them for help. But understand that whatever help they can provide ultimately comes from Allah. After all, even that person may let you down. But if you put your trust in Allah, He will never let you down.
7. They Remain Mindful of Allah
This is the most important habit of them all.
- If you do not remember Allah, you will not think of your own sins and seek repentance for them.
- If you do not remember Allah, you will not try to avoid His punishment by minding your own business without falling into backbiting and slander.
- If you do not remember Allah, you will not try to seek His favor by saying what is good.
- If you do not remember Allah, you will not seek out good company who are also focused on remembering Allah.
- If you do not remember Allah, you will never be able to put your trust in Him and will always look for help from those who can do you no good.
These are not the only things we can do to become effective Muslims. I’m sure you can think of many more habits that will bring you closer to Allah and improve your daily life. But these seven habits of highly effective Muslims is a great place to start. May Allah make it easy for you and me to implement these habits every day of our lives. Ameen.