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[Interview] Nur Fadhilah shares her top tips on staying productive, overcoming writer’s block, and stories of inspiration

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Sometimes when I’m set to begin a task my mind races with other things and it can be hard to focus. What’s more with the distractions from technology to social media, it can be quite challenging to ensure and maintain the most productive, focussed and even spiritual state of mind.

So when I was introduced to the talented sister Nur Fadhilah Wahid and came across all her creative projects, not only was I impressed with her passion for life and learning, but also her great ability to consistently strive to stay focused, productive and inspired!

Nur is currently at university studying a bachelors degree in Communications (with a minor in Islamic knowledge). From articles on staying productive and focussed, to interesting stories and theories, she finds writing to be the most effective way of expressing her faith: “I read a lot, I think a lot, and I reflect a lot, and I guess writing just becomes a natural way for me to express my faith.”

Her passion for inspiring and helping others reach their potential in all aspects of life led her to conduct a ‘Deans List Podcast’ “to inspire students to achieve As in both Dean and Deen (faith).”  These consist of  interviews with top dean’s list students from various schools in the International Islamic University of Malaysia. In these interviews she digs out their stories, finds out what inspires them, what failures they have gone through, and more. Nur says: “One of my best interviews is with a sister from Kyrgyzstan, sis Bermet, who made me cry on air!” To find out why be sure to keep reading.

In my interview with the talented sister Nur she shares her useful tips, everything from overcoming writers block to finding inspiration. You don’t just have to be an (aspiring) writer, blogger, or radio producer to find this interview useful. Continue reading for inspiration on living a productive, healthy and spiritual lifestyle and more!

How do you stay productive & motivated during the day? What tips can you share?

“I live and breathe the simplest and yet most overlooked productivity tip: begin your day with a great morning routine.

The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said in a hadith that the blessings are in the mornings, and nothing can be further from the truth. By beginning your morning a certain way, you are essentially setting the tone of your entire day.

If you are finding it hard to wake up early, in this article, I share 5 tips I implement in my life so that I can begin my day right and be productive and motivated throughout the entire day.”

What’s the secret to balancing your time with your projects?

“I’ve only recently discovered that the secret to balancing time with my different projects is to say “no” to projects that matter less.

By saying “yes” to all the projects that came my way, I drove myself to exhaustion, took longer to complete my daily responsibilities, and lost my heart for each project somewhere along the way. My time for work slowly devoured my time for spiritual activities, relationships, and my personal time to indulge in creative pursuits.

 “My smart phone is silent throughout the day, enabling me to concentrate on the task at hand or situation I am in without any disruptions to my focus – to be in flow and to be mindful.”

So how do I know which projects to say no to? I ask myself these questions, in order:

(i) How many projects do I have on my plate right now? Do I have enough time to take on another project without sacrificing my spiritual/relationships/creative pursuits?

(ii) Will doing the project benefit others, and thus make me happy?

(iii) How do I stand to benefit and grow by taking on this project? Will the experience / knowledge / financial gains be worth investing the time?

If my answer to any of the above question is a “no”, then I say “no” to the project. This way, I get to eliminate lots of projects that come my way, and focus only on those that matter. Balancing my time between projects thus becomes easy when I have only the important, most beneficial projects, to dedicate my time to.”
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[Reflection] Annihilation of the Lower Self: Barrier or Tool?

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This post is by one of our readers, Maya Hussein. Inspired by spiritual readings and the Sufi Comic above, she explores the concept of the lower self and asks these vital questions: what does it mean exactly? How do you master the self? Her reflection leads to an insightful conclusion about using our bodies for a higher purpose and re-examining the actions we do to strive to reach a higher-self. 

I have always been fascinated by the concept of the annihilation of the lower self, or nafs. What does it mean exactly? Does it mean that we don’t follow our desires when they contradict Islamic law? Does it mean that we deny ourselves all enjoyment? How far does it go?

Imam Ali (a) has said many, many things about this subject among his spiritual writings, which is one of the reasons that almost every Sufi school of thought is traced back to him. The mastery of the self is a fundamental part of Islamic spirituality, and a part of every other spiritual tradition. One quote that I feel gives some perspective on the nafs is from his sermon describing the God-conscious: “He killed his nafs and enlivened his heart.” So the heart and nafs also have an inverse relationship. Feeling is enhanced when the lower self is diminished. Our senses are given to us by our Creator, but their purpose doesn’t lie in their fulfillment.

A profound spiritual text suggests:

If we reflect in a rational manner for a moment, we shall realize that the aim of imparting to us all these graces and endowments is something else, superior to and higher than what is visible. This world is a stage of action and its aim is a higher and more sublime sphere of existence. This lower and animal existence is not an end in itself.
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