As Muslims, we know that Eman fluctuates, increases, and decreases. At the same time, we are discouraged from staying stagnant and encouraged to Personal Development. We know the Companions of the Prophet (SAW) actively competed to outdo one another in good deeds. Muslims compete with each other- which can outdo the other in good deeds? No one shows up at the Olympic Games without having to strive for years to improve themselves physically and mentally. If we imagine our life as athletes in The Ultimate Olympic Games, perhaps we can gain a deeper perspective on the importance of personal development. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your preparation.
Just Focus on Personal Development
Often, we want to do XYZ’s good deed, but…and that’s where we fail. Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an to race towards good deeds, “To each, there’s a goal which Allah turns him to; then strive together (as in a race) Towards all that’s good. Wheresoever you are, Allah will bring you Together. For Allah Hath power over all things.” Have you ever seen an Olympian stop to think before the starting pistol is fired? If they were to do that, they would lose the race. So why is it that we think a million times over before an opportunity to do good is presented?
Race Towards Good Deeds:
We must see any real opportunity as a starting pistol that starts the race toward good deeds. We should rush like the Olympic athletes to be the first to reach the finish line. So when an opportunity presents itself, take it! Volunteer, donate, smile, and strive as much as you can to do good deeds. You don’t have to move mountains; you have to try. If your masjid is looking for volunteers, don’t think; sign up! If you’re walking down the street and making eye contact with a stranger, don’t quickly look away but smile.
There are numerous small things you can do to accumulate good deeds. Do not fall behind in the race by wasting time thinking it over. Just do it to be a good Muslim.
There is a reason Allah (SWT) mentions Sabr (patience) so much in the Qur’an. It is the essence of personal development—patience is needed in every aspect of your journey as a Muslim. One does not become perfect Muslim overnight. As with everything else, it takes dedication. You have to be patient with yourself to stay consistent in your acts of worship and avoid that which is forbidden. Consistency is key here. Olympians do not become so overnight. It merely takes years of physical and mental training to gain a spot in the Olympics. Life as a Muslim is no different. It will take a lifetime of self-training to achieve Jannah as our goal.
There are many methods with which you can practice goal setting. Some prefer detailed schedules where almost every activity is planned, while others find that daunting and restricting. One option is to have a day-to-day To-Do List highlighting the small goals you need to accomplish that day to reach your ultimate goal. An essential thing in any goal-setting option is consistency. Complete small goals as consistently as possible and become a good Muslim. As the Prophet (SAW) said,
“The dearest of actions to Allah is that which is done regularly, even if small.”
Don’t underestimate the power of Dhikr and Dua.
Allah (SWT) is An-Nasir (The Helper, The Supporter), ask Him, and He will help you. As Allah (SWT) has said in a Hadith Qudsi,
“And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running.”
We are nothing without the help of Allah, so ask Him for help in your personal development and continue striving. Dhikr is an easy way to accumulate good deeds. Set up your phone to remind you of certain parts of the day to say something specific (ex, SubhanAllahi Wabi Hamdi, SubhanAllah il Adheem x 100). Soon, you won’t need your phone as your heart will start reminding you. Soon, you won’t need your phone as your heart will start reminding you. In a nutshell, don’t overthink the good deeds, practice patience through goal setting, and ask Allah (SWT) to make it easier for you. May Allah (SWT) grant us the ability to recognize opportunities to do good and carry them out in the best manner. And become a good Muslim. May Allah (SWT) accept our good deeds and grant us patience to stay consistent on His Deen. Ameen.