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"O Allah! We seek goodness from Your Knowledge and with Your Power (and Might) We seek strength, and We ask from You Your Great Blessings, because You have the Power and We do not have the power. You Know everything and I do not know, and You have knowledge of the unseen. Oh Allah! If in Your Knowledge this action (We are about to take) is better for my religion and faith, for our life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter then make it destined for us and make it easy for us and then add blessings [baraka'] in it, for us. O Allah! In Your Knowledge if this action is bad for us, bad for our religion and faith, for our life and end [death], for here [in this world] and the hereafter then turn it away from us and turn us away from it and whatever is better for us, ordain [destine] that for us and then make us satisfied with it."

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Importance of a good shaykh by Shaykh Abd'al-Qadir al-Jilani Radi Allahu anhu

Al Ghawth al-Adham Shaykh Sayyad Abd'al-Qadir al-Jilani Radi 'Allahu anhu said: You must work hard to ensure that your hearts are not locked out of the door of His nearness. Be sensible! You are getting nowhere. You must seek the company of a Shaykh who is learned in the law [hukm] and knowledge ['ilm] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), and who will show you the way toward Him. Without seeing the successful [muflih], one cannot succeed. If a person does not seek the company of scholars who put their knowledge into practice ['ulama 'ummal], he is a chicken from an egg abandoned by the rooster and the mother hen.

Seek the fellowship of those who enjoy fellowship with the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). What each of you should do, when the night has grown dark and people have gone to bed and their voices are silent, is get up, take an ablution [yatawadda'], perform two cycles of ritual prayer [yusalli rak'atain] and say: "O my Lord, guide me to one of Your righteous servants near to You, so that he may guide me toward You and make me familiar with Your path." The instrument [sabab] is necessary. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) was quite capable of guiding [His servants] to Him without the Prophets [anbiya']. Be sensible! You are getting nowhere. You must awaken from your heedless folly. As the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam has said: If someone relies entirely on his own subjective judgement, he will go astray. Try to find someone who will be a mirror for the face of your religion [din], just as you look in the mirror to check the appearance of your outer face, your turban and your hair. Be sensible! What is this crazy foolishness? You say, "I don't need anyone to teach me," and yet the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam has said: The believer is the believer's mirror [al-mu'minu mir'atu 'l-mu'min].

When the believer's faith is sound, he comes to be a mirror for all creatures. They behold their religious faces [wujuh adyanihim] reflected in the mirror of his speech, every time they see him and get close to him. What is this craziness? Not a moment goes by without your begging Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) to provide you with more than you already have to eat, to drink, and to wear, with more sexual opportunities and more income. These are not things that could increase or decrease, even if you were to be joined in your plea by every supplicant whose prayers are answered [da 'in mujab].

Supplication [da 'wa] will neither increase one's sustenance by so much as an atom, nor reduce it by an atom. This is a foregone conclusion [mafrugh minhu]. You must devote your attention to doing what you have been commanded to do, and to avoiding what you have been forbidden to do. You should not worry about that which is bound to come your way, because He guarantees that it will come to you. Allotted shares [aqsam] arrive at their appointed times, whether they be sweet or bitter, whether you like them or dislike them.

The people [of the Way] attain to a condition in which they no longer have any prayer of supplication [du'a] or request [su'al] to make. They do not beg [in their prayers] to gain advantages, nor to get rid of disadvantages. Their supplication comes to be a matter concerning their hearts, sometimes for their own sake and sometimes for the sake of all creatures, so they utter the prayer of supplication without conscious premeditation [fi ghaiba].
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"O '' Allah, endow us with good behaviour in Your company under all circumstances!
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[When the believer's faith is sound], fasting [sawm], prayer [salat], remembrance [dhikr] and all acts of obedience [ta 'at] become second nature to him, mingled with his flesh and blood. Then he receives protection from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) under all circumstances. The restraint of the law [hukm] does not desert him, not for an instant, while he is on this course. The law comes to be like the vessel in which he sits, as he travels over the ocean of the power [qudra] of his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). He goes on traveling over it until he arrives at the shore of the hereafter, at the shore of the ocean of grace and the hand of nearness. Thus he is sometimes in the company of creatures and at certain times in the company of the Creator. His work and toil are with creatures, while his relaxation is with the Creator.
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From Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, "The Sublime Revelation (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani)," translated by Muhtar Holland (Al-Baz Publishing, Houston, 1992), p. 426-8.
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On the authority of Abu Hurayrah r.a., who said that Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. said: Allah SWT said:

Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him. (It was related by al-Bukhari)
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“Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

SPEED - Solving Problems Efficiently, Effectively & Decisively - by PLF Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

PLF Mohd Nadzrin Wahab

Accredited Professional Learning Facilitator (Mastery)
016-308-5789

Problem solving has, in this new generation found a more positive approach in that more focus is provided to the solution than the problem itself. This is a good shift away from the old problem-based orientation as it provides a variety of methods to apply. Thus, instead of focusing on passive 'problem-solving', it is the more active 'solving problems'.

In the EnSync methodology of solving problems called SPEED, there are several levels of focus: 1 principle which outlines the approach, 2 strategies that provide high-level orientations, 4 pillars of values and a categorisation of 4 problem types.

SPEED Principle

The principle of SPEED is "Carefully extract a strand of hair from a mound of flour. The hair is unbroken while the flour remains undisturbed". A direct translation of this Melayu proverb would mean: "Extracting a strand of hair from a mound of flour. The hair is unbroken while the flour remains undisturbed.

The proverb speaks of making small but significant changes that minimise disruption yet achieves the objectives of the changes.

SPEED Strategies

The 2 core strategies of SPEED are:

1. "Help others sincerely in solving THEIR problems and Allah will make YOUR problems easier to resolve" - This is accepting that man was created to serve Allah, thus play a role in creating peace on Earth as His vicegerents. As such, His blessings are available for anyone who truly assist others to save them from difficulty. Even if you do not know how, Allah will show you the way. Just want to help, and help will come.

In a non-religious sense, it creates a bank of account of goodwill (thank you Dr Stephen Covey) that can certainly help when you are in need.

2. "Ask for help" - Keeping a problem to oneself will only stretch the limit of human capacity. By sharing his challenges and goals, one widens his capacity to receive assistance by other people or communities. Asking for help from Allah and His creation is not a sign of weakness. It is, in fact, a sign of humility.

SPEED Pillars

SPEED is built upon 4 pillars, meaning when you inculcate these as your lifelong values, they will support your solving efforts. They are:

1. Acceptance - this refers to redha. Accept the reality of the situation and quickly move to resolve it.

2. Confidence - this refers to yaqin. Every disease has its cure. Every problem has a resolution, whether it resolves in your favour or otherwise. Therefore, become involved in the problem and solve it in your favour rather than stand back and do nothing.

3. Determination - this is doing everything with stamina and passion to find a solution, even if you don't see it yet. Have faith. "Dalam segala apa yang kita lakukan, lakukanlah bersungguh-sungguh".

4. Improvement - this refers to muhasabah. When you are once burned, why get a credit card again? After the tsunami, Malaysia is now better prepared. After our personal tsunamis, we want to be better prepared too.

Risk or Issue?

A problem is identified first as a Risk or an Issue. A risk is a potential problem and an issue is a present problem. Most people solve issues yet forget that risks, when left unprepared for, can develop exponentially into issues.

In a car, a neglecting to change a RM300 timing belt can easily escalate to becoming a RM3000 engine overhaul. A habit of not wearing the seatbelt can easily cause sudden and painful orphanhood.


Problem Types

SPEED recognises that analysing problems is the first step to understanding its complexity since most problems have many moving parts. It is because of this that solvers sometimes oversimplify a problem and aren't able to resolve the cause-and-effects of a complex 'problem'.

To see clearer, SPEED categorises all problems into only 4 types, represented by the acronym PDRM:

1. Process - resolving bottlenecks, blockages, lack of resources, delays, etc to maintain a controllable and desirable flow of value.

2. Decisions - weighing between two or more similar options and choosing between them based on merit and being able to defend the decision.

3. Relationships - communicating clearly and persuading other people with as minimal emotional turmoil as possible to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.

4. Motivation - individual drive.

Most problems come as a mix of two or all four of the above, which, as previously mentioned, makes solving them challenging. Some people categorise health problems as a process issue. All they need is the money for an operation. Once they have it, they believe the problem is solved.

There is also the possibility that one's health problem affects one's motivation to live thus contributes them to die in the operating room or to take too long to heal.

This strains familial relationships. Thus, in this case, the 'health' problem comes bundled 3 disguised as 1.

Therefore, analyse the problems separately and solve them at the same time rather than sequentially.

Final Solution (Islamic version)

As human beings, we must accept that our ability to process problems are very limited, even when we work together en masse. Thus, the realisation that Allah is the Ultimate Solver leads us to use that final and most powerful of tools in our toolbox, and that is supplication (du'a). For solving problems certainly feels like going to war, and Du'a is the weapon of the mu'minun.
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Solving Someone Else's Problems Can Help Solve Yours

The SPEED Principle and Strategies shared in the article Solving Problems Efficiently, Effectively & Decisively are the core of the SPEED method. In fact, I often tell learners who attend my programs that should they forget everything else I tell them, to remember these principle and strategies.

The Principle

The principle of SPEED is "Menarik rambut dalam tepung. Rambut tidak putus, tepung tidak berselerak". A direct translation of this Melayu proverb would mean: "Carefully extract a strand of hair from a mound of flour. The hair is unbroken while the flour remains undisturbed".

The Melayu people of the Malaysian Peninsula are well known for their love of status quo. Thus, rocking the boat is mostly not an option. When it comes to solving problems then, they are masters at business-as-usual while navigating a change.

Problems that arise are quickly handled by the experienced people in society, and done with the assistance of the community, getting everyone's input, either directly or by proxy. Thus, the very emotionally cautious Melayu will get all sides of a story before proceeding. Their aim is long-term stability with everyone's buy-in and commitment, not short term fixes.

The Strategies

The 2 core strategies of SPEED are:

1. "Help others sincerely in solving THEIR problems and Allah will make YOUR problems easier to resolve" - This is accepting that man was created to serve Allah, thus play a role in creating peace on Earth as His vicegerents. As such, His blessings are available for anyone who truly assist others to save them from difficulty. Even if you do not know how, Allah will show you the way. Just want to help, and help will come.

In a non-religious sense, it creates a bank of account of goodwill (thank you Dr Stephen Covey) that can certainly help when you are in need.

2. "Ask for help" - Keeping a problem to oneself will only stretch the limit of human capacity. By sharing his challenges and goals, one widens his capacity to receive assistance by other people or communities. Asking for help from Allah and His creation is not a sign of weakness. It is, in fact, a sign of humility.

These strategies take someone from a defensive position in handling their problems and puts them into an active position. It also provides a fresh pair of eyes, a different perspective to your problems while at the same time, giving a fresh perspective to someone else's.

In the modern world, individualism cannot make use of these strategies, but communities who practice interdependence such as families, tightly-knit teams and organisations, and of course, the Ummah, experience this solution barter on a daily basis.

Putting the core to work

When deciding to solve a problem, ask yourself these:

1. Who is available to support you?

Who are your close family members, neighbours or friends who are available to help out? Forget about any past relations, crises or issues that could cloud the present. Most important is to identify who they are. Then, offer your assistance for Allah's sake, even if rejected, for things that are within your ability. Support them in their time of need, even if they think they don't need you. This has helped break down barriers, heal old issues and strengthen already strong relationships.

2. Who else can benefit from your assistance?

The hand that gives is above the hand that receives, meaning Allah blesses those who give out of the kindness of their hearts, even to those who don't know them. This doesn't just refer to outright charity in the modern sense. It is kindness in thought, word, and action. It is what charity used to mean. Give, and don't look back or ask for anything in return. Give with your right hand in a way that your left hand knows nothing about it.

3. Can I ask of Allah AND of His servants?

There are people who will help you and there are people who will not. But the people who know what is the right thing to do subscribe to goodness, irrespective of what religion (or not) they are. They are simply good. Supplicate to Allah for His help, and look to the people He sends to help you. Ask of them, appreciate them, and reward them with your own help.

What now?

With social media now connecting everyone around the world, look on your news feed. Someone who could use a kind word, a small donation, an old bicycle you would have thrown away, a visit, a recommendation for a job, anything at all, is someone who needs your help.

What normally happens, is, by solving someone else's problem and not focusing on yours, you allow yourself to take an emotional distance from the impact your problem has on you to practice your solving skills.

Akin to taking baby steps, you actually prime yourself with courage to tackle your own. And who knows, by the time you're ready to fight, you'll have an army of people behind you to help you wage your war.
Help, and you will get help.

This article is under a series outlining the Solving Problems Efficiently, Effectively & Decisively (SPEED) method. Read the first article here.

Nadzrin is a Professional Learning Facilitator and is currently a Learning Coach and Master Trainer at Accenture Learning's Kuala Lumpur Centre of Excellence.

He is also the founder of the EnSync Workplace Performance Skills methodology based on his experience in Silat Melayu and corporate learning.

Silat Melayu is a traditional Melayu martial art which hails from South East Asia and is heavily influenced by Islamic sufi traditionas and contains many personal, leadership and community lessons. It is Nadzrin's dream to share this with the world.