Stepping down, stepping up


INsights 001, 5th November 2021

Stepping down, stepping up


- INsights 001 -
5th November 2021

Assalaamu-alaikum, Peace be upon you.             

Big news: Yesterday I announced my decision to step down from my role as Chief Executive at National Zakat Foundation. 

It’s been ten years since I was appointed to lead what was then a small project, and what has now become a significant, well-established Zakat institution in the United Kingdom that has touched the lives of tens of thousands of believers across the country. All praise belongs only to God.

The primary driver of my decision to step down was to step up fully to my next challenge: delivering transformational educational experiences to help people live truly God-centered lives. 

What began with teaching the Transform My Prayer course two years ago has developed into what is now a very clear personal mission:

I want to help you and many others achieve connection through prayer, clarity through revelation, and the courage to fulfil your leadership potential.

Today marks the first full day of this exciting new chapter… and so a very warm welcome to the first edition of INsights, a fortnightly email newsletter delivered to your inbox every other Friday.

Even my dad signed up to receive this today, so I’ve put some extra effort into it! Once you've had a read, do let me know what you think. Too long, too short? Too simple, too complicated? I'm all ears... and want to shape this so that it can be as beneficial for you as possible.

Bismillah. Let’s begin in the name of God…

Here are some insights:

On Prayer:             

Let me introduce you to the P.R.A.Y. framework…

P is for Problem: Depending on where you live, you might be facing the challenge of three prayers (Dhuhr, Asr and Maghrib) in quick succession during the afternoons. The problem is actually two-fold:

  1. Doing all three on time
  2. Offering them with concentration, especially given that they come so soon after one another

R is for Realisation: It’s critical not to feel resentful or inconvenienced by the situation. Realise that offering your prayers is such a central part of worship (‘ibadah), it can almost be said to be the very reason you exist. Understand that nothing should get in the way of you praying on time. This is a real test of whether you’re going to put your Lord first, over and above yourself and others. And in the end, it’s only a matter of standing to attention for around 20 minutes over a period of four hours or so. That’s less than 10% of that time for your Lord and more than 90% for whatever else you need to do. 

A is for Action: Let me suggest two key actions. Firstly, be grateful! Even if only a few minutes pass between one prayer and the next, the number of blessings you experience are so numerous in that short space of time. If you reflect on that momentarily, your keenness to show gratitude will increase and you’ll feel you owe it to your Lord to bow and prostrate once again. 

Secondly, plan and communicate! Get your prayer times in your diary in advance, so you can plan around them, and not desperately insert them at the last minute. And in a work setting, whether you’re at home or in the office, let your colleagues know that you’ll be taking time out at brief intervals for your prayers. When you plan and when you’re open with others, everything just becomes so much better and easier.

Y is for Yield, meaning the result. If you take the approach and adopt the mindset outlined above, you’ll maintain a positive attitude towards prayer, as well as increase in confidence and self-esteem as a believer. You’ll do away with feelings of regret at not having prioritised the number one action of your life.

On Revelation:           

One of the most powerful verses in the Qur’an about the Qur’an is this one:

God has sent down the most beautiful of all teachings: a Scripture that is consistent and draws comparisons; that causes the skins of those in awe of their Lord to shudder. Then their skins and their hearts soften at the mention of God: such is God’s guidance. He guides with it whoever He will; no one can guide those God leaves to stray. [Chapter 39, The Throngs, Verse 23]

When was the last time you shuddered in response to the messages contained in revelation? Are you giving yourself enough time to spend with the Qur’an? See if you can dive into a translation of the Qur’an this weekend with an open heart and feel the goosebumps! I’d love to know which verses really got to you.

On Leadership:           

I’ve been reflecting a lot on my leadership journey at NZF. One of the things that stands out is simply this: God provides! I made a big financial sacrifice and faced a lot of uncertainty when I started my NZF journey. But God has always provided for me in ways I never expected. 

I did a short Friday sermon at my local mosque today on this very topic. Check it out below:

What I'm Reading           

I’m slowly working through A Faith for All Seasons: Islam and the Challenge of the Modern World, by Shabbir Akhtar. I’m finding it really engaging. Here’s one short excerpt that stood out for me: 

“Islam has today in its populous community a significant number of people who are its members by chance rather than choice. Their orthodoxy is typically neither suspect nor enthusiastic, merely unreflective. It is a hallmark of their character that they speak in favour of Islam only when the West attacks it. […] Obviously, [only] a group with a genuine love of faith and piety could resist the ravages of alien ideologies far more successfully than a group whose members are mostly indifferent, hypocritical in their allegiance and readily ‘selling out’ to opposing convictions.”


Before You Go:

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I hope you enjoyed and benefited from this edition of INsights. Please comment below with your feedback.

Have a blessed fortnight. I'll see you in two Fridays, God willing

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