If you need counsel about some matter that has suddenly happened to you, then begin by exposing it to the spontaneity of the young, for surely their minds are sharper, and their intuition is quicker; then after that refer it to the judgement of those who are mature and old, so that they can analyse it, and decide what is best for it, for surely they are the most experienced. ~ Imam Ali (a)
“I wish I had him / her as my friend… then I’d be really happy. ”
“I wish I was famous, then I’d really be happy.”
“I wish was making enough money… then I’d be happy.”
“I wish… I wish.. I wish…”
Have you ever felt this way?
We spend our lives running after things or people, hoping they will make us happy. But as soon as we get what we want, the happiness fizzles away & we start running after the next shiny object.
Finding happiness in material things is like fighting illness with pain killers. The effect is superficial and rather short term.
It’s great to be Happy and to experience this high. But know that this kind of happiness is like a wave. It comes. And it goes.
What we should be really striving for, is to Be Content.
What is the difference between Contentment and Happiness?
If you chase happiness, it will always be one step ahead of you. If you chase contentment, there is nowhere to run.
While happiness is an emotion that comes and goes, I look at Contentment as a way of life.
Contentment is a state of constant well-being despite the ups & downs we face. Life is challenging and at times it can throw us off balance. By practicing contentment, we find the strength to remain at peace no matter what.
How to be Content? 2 Lessons from a Sufi Comic
Two lessons I learned from the quote in the above comic:
1. Be Grateful
Be Grateful to God for what He has given.
There are so many things to be grateful about that we take for granted. Our family, friends, our health, the food that we eat, the list goes on and on!
Often the simplicity of practicing gratitude deceives you into thinking that it’s not worth your time. That its just placebo! But trust me, this works.
It’s an act of faith and can sometimes feel ineffective, especially when you are exasperated. But the more I embrace gratitude, the better my life becomes.
When we are grateful for what we have, it focuses our attention on what is right in our lives. Not only do we become content, it also helps us maintain a positive perspective when we face challenges.
2. Avoid Complaining All the Time
There’s a tendency in society to think that if you’re complaining all the time, you must be “smart”. Because if you’re complaining you’re implying you know how to fix the world’s problems or that you’re somehow better than others.
But complaining only creates more unhappiness not only for you, but also for those around you.
Now I’m not saying that you should smile all the time, and pretend everything is OK when it’s not. That’s unreal.
But before you complain, ask yourself “Why am I complaining?” Is it to validate myself? Or is it because there’s a genuine problem that needs to be addressed.
Instead of complaining, try to be constructive in your criticism. Look at the world from the point of view of the other person. Listen well. Put forth your needs. Try solving the problem together.
In most cases this will lead to a solution.
So the next time you catch yourself thinking “I wish I had so and so… then I’ll be happy.” Gently remind yourself, that you are responsible for your own happiness. And that it doesn’t need to depend on “being famous”, “making more money” or anything external.
What you are really looking for is to be content. And once you realize contentment comes from within, you don’t need to wait any longer. You can be content here & now.
Discuss things with children with insight and argument
and with the Middle Age with reflection
and with the old men by keeping silent
~ Imam Ali (a)
Rumi crafted spiritual wisdom, in the most beautiful of ways, and even in today’s modern age, anyone reading Rumi will find something they can relate to.
We’ve taken some of Rumi’s quotes and used created images using the illustrations from the book. Have a look at them here.
The likeness of this world is that of a snake: it is soft to the touch and deadly poisonous.
The ignorant child is distracted by it, and the one with the understanding intellect is cautious of it.
So turn away from what fascinates you in it, for how little of it stays with you
~ Imam Ali (a)
[Interview] Fatimah Agha on her project Quran for Kids that aims to inspire and motivate children around the world
Fatimah Agha’s new venture Quran for Kids aims to instil the love of the Quran into children who usually run away from it, through a creative series of podcasts and videos.
She recalls her own childhood where the Quran plunged her into a “world of wonders”, as she searched for answers to intriguing questions, such as the fascinating stories of past Prophets and personalities, or amazing facts about the animal kingdom. Yet the Quran lessons she received were not at all engaging causing her to resent it.
Triggered by her own childhood experiences, and her two young daughters Zainab and Zahra, Fatimah began Quran for Kids. This is a series of ten minute podcasts almost everyday, where Fatimah and her two daughters explore different verses and extract lessons from the Quran.
Read my interview with Fatimah as she shares her top tips in producing compelling audio and visual content, her ideas for podcasts and videos, and the challenges in her work and how she overcomes them.
Why did you start Quran for Kids? What and/or who inspired you?
I wanted to inspire my children to be fascinated by the Quran, and it would be a mistake on our part to not introduce the Quran to our children in a good way. We as parents, teachers and mentors have a great responsibility to instil the love of truth in our children. Quran is a manifestation of the truth and as modern day educationists and scientist would agree, that first impressions need to be curated with great deliberation.
“Whatever touches my heart in my everyday routine and through my personal interaction with my children is what inspires me to prepare each podcast.”
Quran for kids is an effort to not only create a beautiful bond between children and the Quran but also the point where we can unite as Muslims. We need to instil love of humanity and unity in the coming generations and I use this forum to make sure that all of our children can unite through the Quran.
How do you come up with ideas for your videos?
I like to pick out Quran ayats (verses) that are relevant to children’s everyday practices of good manners mostly, but now for example we are exploring the lives of the Prophets. Whatever touches my heart in my everyday routine and through my personal interaction with my children is what inspires me to prepare each podcast. We look forward to doing more videos in the future.
What are the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge while preparing a 10-minute, talk that includes my 9 and 6 years old daughters is to do it in a way that we don’t need to edit it. This is because this way the conversation stays natural and not artificially planned.
“We need to instil love of humanity and unity in the coming generations and I use this forum to make sure that all of our children can unite through the Quran.”
At the same time my aim is for my own kids to enjoy it and that wouldn’t happen if we keep rehearsing or keep on redoing it. I don’t want my kids to get affected by some sort of “fame fever” or lose their focus from their own lesson and worry too much about creating a perfect show.
The best way to juggle all of that is to make sure that we plan the lesson a little bit before the recording and also that I’m well rested and fresh to take on each podcast, because siblings are siblings and some days are good and some days not so good. You know what I mean.
What advice would you give to others creating similar videos?
Although my current focus is on podcasts, the most important thing with kids is to keep the duration short and sweet, and include information and material, which keeps the children hooked.
Words, expressions, even examples should be pertaining to the things that children can associate themselves with. For instance names of cartoons, fashion trends or activities that most kids can relate to in their everyday routine can help keep their attention.
“There is nothing correct or incorrect with art. Passion and dedication can be enough sometimes!”
Monologue can be a real turn off, so more interactive the show the better with lots of lows and highs in voice to break the monotony that can sound like a lecture. Even psychologists have shown it scientifically that our system of attention adapts to monotones and switches off.
What inspired in you the love of painting and what do you need to be a good artist?
I’ve loved painting since I was a kid. I’ve never really took special classes but I was a keen student and I observed my art teachers closely. I remember trying to replicate great paintings or works of mentors. I would keep trying until I would perfect that technique. Nowadays YouTube and Google can help one enhance and learn from scratch. Passion and dedication can be enough sometimes!
I always tell my children there is nothing correct or incorrect with art. However taking art classes where they teach various techniques with use of brushes, papers and even special chemicals can really help to enhance painting skills.
Can you share an image of your favourite painting?
I love this painting the most because nature has always inspired me. I want my work to expand the imagination, and include the love of God in everything and everywhere. I believe that art and Islam should help to unite us and broaden our view of the world.
… And your favourite or most popular podcast/video and why?
I really enjoyed this podcast Quran For Kids #3 Lets Understand Others because this is what I mainly feel passionate about and want to spread to the world: a message of peace love and unity which comes from the Quran.
Last but not least, what do you think of Sufi Comics?
Sufi Comics was like a dream project coming alive. It really gave me this hope that this world is full of new ideas and opportunities. Ideas can be made to come to life. I am in awe of Sufi comics and a die-hard fan. Even though my daughters are young they too love Sufi comics and read them no matter how deep. So far the Wise Fool of Baghdad is their favourite. We really look forward to more from Sufi comics.
Passionate and involved in creative arts and religious studies from a young age, Fatimah is always seeking new ideas and opportunities to implement her creativity. She is an artist and painter, having sold over 200 paintings for kids around the world. She has also been a fashion designer for the past six years, designing a wide range of modest clothing. At the moment she is pursuing a degree in Psychology online from California Southern University.
Follow the Quran for Kids podcasts hereSubscribe to Quran for Kids YouTube channelCheck out Fatimah’s website/online shop for more creative work
Have you read our previous interview with creative artists? Check them out here!