Monday, July 16, 2018
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[Interview] Your Guide to An Effective Transformation of the Mind, Body & Soul

Sisters, if you’re looking for practical advice that helps you transform your life holistically and reach your full potential, then, you’ve come to the right place.
ProductiveMuslim brings you this interview with Sr. Khadija Abdus Sabur, a Transformational Coach, Certified Integrative Nutritionist, Emotional Wellness Advocate, and Spiritual Health & Holistic Lifestyle Coach. The Founder of Woman by Nature, The Purposeful Muslimah Mastermind, The Self{ish} Project and the “Fill Your Cup First” 7-day Self-Love challenge.

Sister Khadija fuses spiritual principles, practical wellness tools and Islamic Psychology for truly transformational results. She has guided scores of women to heal from trauma, improve their connection with Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He), increase self-esteem, reclaim their health, strengthen their relationships, raise spiritually minded children, and actualize a true wellness of the mind, body & spirit.

So, without further ado, we leave you with this interview; we encourage you to take notes of what you decided to incorporate in your own life and let us hear your thoughts in the comments section.

(1) Please remind our readers, why is it important for a Productive Muslim to have a happy and healthy heart?

This is an excellent question, masha Allah. As a Transformational Coach who focuses on a mind/body/spirit perspective, much of my work is around understanding and cultivating a happy and healthy heart, so that sisters can overcome past trauma, surmount obstacles, and connect with themselves and their Lord subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) on a deep level. This allows them to grow as individuals and as part of our Ummah – living and shining as the highest versions of themselves, bi’thniAllah (with the permission of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He)).

I firmly believe that for a Productive Muslim – someone who wants to thrive and excel in this life and the next – a happy and healthy heart is crucial, from a number of perspectives.

Spiritually – When it comes to maintaining and enhancing our spiritual connection, obeying Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) commands and staying away from what He has prohibited, and striving to be purposeful and productive in this life – a healthy heart is paramount.

Masha Allah, we all know this famous portion of a longer hadith:

“…Verily, in the body is a small piece of flesh that if it is healthy, the whole body is healthy and if it is sick, the whole body is sick. This small piece of flesh is the heart.”
[Sahîh al-Bukhârî]

In this, we can see the paramount importance of a sound and healthy heart, as it influences and directs the rest of our body. It influences our eyes and what we gaze upon, our ears and what we allow them to listen to, our mouth and the words we utter, our limbs and the actions we take, our feet and the places we walk to…

All of this (how we use our body) becomes what fills our book of deeds, which we will be asked about on the Day of Judgment. And our deeds are ultimately influenced by the state of our heart.

Physically – In order to move throughout life and to carry out your purpose in the most efficient and energetic way, physical health is important. The physical health of your heart (or lack thereof) greatly impacts your actions, the opportunities you are able to partake of – and ultimately your lifespan.

As Believers, we know that it is an amanah (trust) to maintain our physical health as much as possible, which aids in longevity, vigor, and, in sha Allah, increasing our ability to worship our Lord subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Emotionally – a heart mired in pain, doubt and confusion clouds your thinking, blocks your potential and creates an environment that is easy for Shaytan to whisper into.

When the emotional aspect of our heart is neglected, it is easy to become immobilized with fear and indecision, become prey to unscrupulous individuals, and suffer from a diminished sense of self-worth – none of which contributes to living life as a Productive Muslim.

2) What constitutes a happy and healthy heart?

Based on the framework above, a happy and healthy heart is one that is intimately connected to Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He), and always considerate of what will please its Lord subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He), as well as cautious to avoid what would displease Him subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). This heart is pleased with Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) decree – while always striving to improve. This heart is gentle and gracious to those around it and strives to be a true example of the beauty of our deen.

A happy and healthy heart is one which is deliberately cared for by its owner, who understands that their eating habits, lifestyle, stress level and activity all have an influence on its health, effectiveness, and longevity. The owner of a happy and healthy heart places paramount importance on keeping it so.

A happy and healthy heart is also open to love and connection, seeks to actively work through and heal from pain or trauma, strives to be forgiving, and is open to looking at its own role in any problems it experiences. A happy and healthy heart owns the fact that it is capable of directing its emotions towards good, rather than anger, sadness, and destruction. A happy and healthy heart radiates outwards and leaves a lasting beneficial impression upon all who encounter it.

3) That was a beautiful definition. Now, what does the term “fill your cup” that comes in your work mean?

As humans, we do not come with a 24/7 constant infusion of energy, happiness, and spiritual awareness. It would be wonderful if our iman never weakened, our energy never waned, or our bodies never faltered – but this just isn’t the case.

Our overall health and happiness must be consciously and continuously cultivated – or the well will eventually run dry. This is especially true with the rigors of modern life and our many responsibilities. Most people are expending SO much of themselves – but rarely refueling, leading to their “cup” running dry.

So in essence, to fill one’s cup means that you are conscious about “refilling” your cup and refueling yourself in order to thrive.

4) How is this essential for a Productive Muslim?

Filling your cup is absolutely essential for a Productive Muslim. If you are someone who is a high achiever, who strives to maintain balance, efficiency, and productivity in your life and relationships – you MUST refill your cup on a consistent basis, so that you have the energy, creativity, and happiness to fuel your life and work. If not, this leads to burnout, resentment, and depression – far from being a productive member of the Ummah.

5) How could one go about “filling the cup” and ensuring that the heart is healthy and happy?

How one “fills their cup” depends a lot on their unique life situation, their likes and dislikes, their environment, and the responsibilities that they have on their plate.

For example, for a mother of young children, filling her cup may look like hiring a sitter once a week to get out and spend time focusing on her and only her for a bit, which allows her to be more energized and loving when she is back home.

For someone who is creative or loves nature, filling their cup may mean giving themselves regular opportunities to immerse themselves in artistic environments or regularly get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and trek into nature.

For someone who works alone at home, it may mean making a conscious effort to connect with friends or colleagues outside of their work environment to foster human connection, unwind, and share ideas.

The point is for each person to identify what activities, people, surroundings, and things fuel them, and this is one of the most beneficial things I help sisters I work with to discover, as it creates a positive ripple effect in every area of their lives, Alhamdulillah.

6) What are the repercussions of not “filling your cup”?

For something that we often think that we don’t have time, space, or permission to do often (fill our cup), NOT doing so creates a literal cascade of issues and problems in all areas of our life.

If we don’t give ourselves the time and space to recharge from the responsibilities of life, we can become resentful and negative towards the people closest to us. Not because we don’t love them – but because we are overworked and stressed out.

If we exhaust ourselves being the go-to person for every project, organization, and cause – but never set boundaries or slot in time to self-care, our intention can become corrupted and we’ll burn and crash in short order.

If you are too busy, distracted, or uninterested in eating well or maintaining your physical body, you will likely experience health problems sooner rather than later.

If you don’t set non-negotiable time and space to cultivate your spiritual connection and communicate with your Lord, life will be uncertain, painful, and disconnected.

All of this constitutes filling your cup. And my philosophy is that not only should you fill your own cup (shouldn’t wait for others to do it for you), but you must fill your own cup FIRST.

You can’t continue to give what you don’t have – or you will eventually be in a deficit.

7) How can we protect our hearts from depression, anxiety, and spiritual unwholesomeness?

The thing about the heart is that it requires consistent maintenance in order to stay in the best condition. Much like we need to eat well, exercise and avoid taking in impurities in order to keep the heart physically healthy – it’s the same spiritually.

Some means to protect the health of the heart:

From depression: Have good thoughts of your Lord subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He), that He will aid you in your time of sadness and provide the solution to your problems. Understand and believe Him wholeheartedly when He subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

Narrated Abu Huraira raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):
The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) says: ‘I am just as My slave thinks I am, (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him) and I am with him if He remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too, remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than they; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.’ ”
[Sahih al-Bukhari]

From anxiety: Anxiety is often based on fear and uncertainty. Cultivating tawakkul (trust/reliance upon Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He)) is a means of soothing the heart, removing fear and doubt, and allowing oneself to move through life unafraid of what potential problems lurk around every corner. By understanding that your fate is in the hands of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) – and doing your best to remain in His obedience, you are able to maintain a sense of quiet confidence and hope, alhamdulillah.

From unwholesomeness: This is the most important area, especially in this day and age where corruption and lewdness are present at every turn – characterized as normal and entertaining. For the heart that strives for soundness and purity, it is critical that one guards against what is consumed.

One thing that I speak about often is the need to “guard your heart and mind space”. This means being conscious and vigilant about what you allow to penetrate and take up space in your heart and your mind – which then impacts your iman and overall spiritual condition. This includes carefully curating the environments you are in, the entertainment you consume, the friends you spend time with, the pastimes you enjoy, etc. Are these things fueling spiritual upliftment, or are they corroding your heart, which is the root of all good within you?

8) What productive tips can you give the readers to implement on a daily basis to ensure that their hearts and cups are full so that they may function as the very best Productive Muslims they can be?

Morning routine: One of my personal practices – and one that I recommend to clients and students is to set and maintain a morning routine.
So often we start the day thinking about other people’s agendas, tasks that we have to complete and deadlines that we have to meet. However, before we jump into that, it’s important to have some quiet time in the early morning (I prefer right after fajr) to read Qur’an, do dhikr, relax with some tea, journal, be creative – essentially do something that calms and fuels you for the day ahead.
Adhkar: This was alluded to above, but deserves its own category. In the last ten years, the practice that I would say has contributed the most to my productivity, spiritual connection, and overall happiness – is to recite the prescribed adhkar in the morning and evening. This can take some time, as quite a few of them require repetition (some you say 3x, etc), however over time you get into a rhythm and find so much peace and comfort in reflecting on the power and might of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) as you beseech Him subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) to guide your day. This practice has made such an imprint on my life, that on the rare occasion that I miss reciting my adhkar, I can see and feel the difference in my day. Things just seem off.
Nature Therapy: One of the things I’m passionate about is allowing ourselves time to be still, reflect and heal – especially in our hectic society. One of the most healing and soul-filling activities to me personally, is to immerse myself in nature.
By drinking in the beauty, the freshness, and the perfect order that Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) displays in nature, you can reconnect to your fitrah, allow hurt to melt away and have a clearer mind with which to reflect on any problems you’re experiencing. And most importantly, nature fuels and energizes you so that you can then give to others in your life.
Qur’an: When it comes to filling our cup, the most critical advice would be to continually immerse ourselves in the sublime speech and guidance of our Lord subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). If the heart is the foundation for everything else, then the Qur’an is the medicine and guide for the heart. Whenever we feel stressed or disconnected, there is something within those pages to place things in perspective or provide guidance or hope. The Qur’an is our secret weapon and our greatest gift, alhamdulillah.
May Allah make us of those who strive to maintain sound and healthy hearts, to be used in His service. Allahuma ameen.

What are the habits that you have formed to ensure a healthy and happy heart? What habits or happenings drain your soul? We look forward to your answers in the comments.

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