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Thinking before Planning: a detailed self-evaluation guide

Take advantage of five things before five others happen: your youth before you grow old; your health before you fall sick; your money before you become poor; your leisure before you become busy; and your life before you die.

(The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said this according to Amr ibn Maymun as recorded by Tirmidhi)

Umar Ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said: Hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable and weigh your deeds before they are weighed for you.

****************************************

A few weeks ago, we advised Muslims to plan ahead for Ramadan. Now that the blessed month is over, it's time to set our sights on planning again. This time, it's to keep those good Ramadan habits we picked up and to develop more in the next 12 months.

To do that, we've got to take stock of where we are and think about new habits to develop.

During Ramadan, we had one month to try to establish resolutions and habits we hope to keep. But if we want to continue those habits, we need to take a careful look at ourselves and evaluate where we've been, where we want to go and how to get there, Insha Allah.

The planning until next Ramadan has to be done NOW. There is no time to wait.

This is a sample self-evaluation form you can use to assess your present state in different aspects of life and how you can improve on the good.

SECTION ONE: Your personal relationship with Allah

-is Allah the most important priority in your life?

-how often did you remember and thank Allah in times of happiness and joy?

-how did you react to difficulties and tests Allah placed in your life? Were you patient or impatient?

-did your understanding of and commitment to Allah deepen with knowledge and practice this year?

-how often did you remember Allah on a daily basis? How can I incorporate Zikr into my life?

-how often did you "talk" to Allah through Dua, apart from when you wanted something?

-were you lazy in how you related to Allah?

-how often did you ask for Allah's guidance?

-how often did you turn to Allah in times of anxiety, need and difficulty?

-what can you do on a daily and weekly basis to increase your remembrance and commitment to Allah?

-how can you memorize relevant Duas from the Quran and Ahadith to remember Allah at all times?

-have you invited other human beings to relate to Allah?

Your Islamic knowledge

-Link to Islamic study syllabus

-did you read Quran with meaning and understanding this past year on a daily basis?

-if not why not?

-did you attend a regular Islamic study circle (Halaqa) or class?

-if not, where can you find one?

-did you attend any Islamic conferences or seminars?

-what are 10 new things that you learned about Islam this past year which you did not know before?

-did you implement any of these 10 things?

-did you seek knowledge only for Allah's sake, or was there another reason?

-what 10 aspects of Islam would you like to know about by next Ramadan which you do not know about right now?

-how many Islamic books did you read this past year?

-how many Islamic videos did you watch?

-how many Islamic audio products did you listen to?

-what way of learning suits you best (i.e. oral, visual, written)?

-have you read about the people around you?

-do you have a good general knowledge of the world around you?

Your prayers

-did you pray five times a day?

-did you pray on time at school or at work, or did you make up the prayers when you got home?

-are you praying correctly, or just assuming the way you pray is correct?

-have you been concentrating in your Salah?

-have you approached prayer with anticipation, love and fear of Allah, or with a reluctance and dread, hoping to just get it over with?

-do you read Sunnah prayers with the Fard as well?

-how can you improve your prayer?

-have you made dua for your neighbors and friends at job?

SECTION TWO: Your Family

-when did you last thank Allah for your family?

-is your relationship with your family for the pleasure of Allah?

-have you understood your responsibility as a Muslim to your family?

-do you know your duties as a father/mother, husband/wife, brother/sister, son/daughter?

-do you know your rights as a father/mother, husband/wife brother/sister, son/daughter?

How is your relationship with your parents?

-(if living together), do you have meaningful conversation with them daily?

-have you developed any grudges that have to be cleared away?

-have you forgiven them for any hurt they may have caused you?

-have you sought their forgiveness for mistakes you have made that hurt them?

-is your behavior towards them as respectful as possible?

-have you said "uff" to them or reacted angrily towards them?

-in the last year, what five things have you done to bring them closer to Allah?

-how have you served your parents?

-(if they live far away) have you called and visited them regularly?

-have you given them gifts on Eid and tried to get together with them?

-if they have passed away, when did you pray for them?

-have you done any charity lately for their sake?

How is your relationship with your spouse?

-do you engage in meaningful conversation with each other daily?

-have you learned about Islam together by attending a regular Islamic activity?

-how have you tried to make Islam part of your lives as a couple and family?

-do you feel you have built an Islamic household together?

-has there been verbal, emotional or physical abuse in the relationship? If so, why and what can be done about it?

-is there a silent grudge that needs to be discussed and cleared away?

-have you forgiven each other and sought forgiveness from each other for past mistakes?

-how often have you spent leisure time alone together in the past year?

-has your Iman (faith) in Allah and Islam grown through your relationship this past year?

-how would you feel about your relationship if you are in your spouse's place?

How is your relationship with your children?

-what five things have you done to bring them kids closer to Allah?

-how much have you invested in their Islamic education, both financially and in terms of your time?

-on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest, how well do you think you know your children?

-what is going on in their lives in school, extracurricular activities, social activities, etc.?

-do you know who their friends are?

-do you talk to them on a daily basis in any meaningful way?

-do you spend leisure time with them?

-how many fun activities have you engaged in with them over the year?

-have you helped introduce them to good Muslim kids their age that they can be friends with?

-has there been verbal, emotional or physical abuse in the relationship? If so, why and what can be done about it?

-have you sought their forgiveness for mistakes you have made that hurt them?

-have you been a living example of Islam to them?

-how can you spend more time with them?

-do you know what kind of environment they are growing up in?

-do you know what their favorite television shows, writers, video games, toys etc. are?

-how many Friday Salat have they prayed in the Masjid?

-how often do you take them to the Masjid?

-how often do you take them to Islamic activities (i.e. dinners, camps, conferences, seminars, etc.)?

-what do you think they think about you?

-are they likely to talk to you or would they prefer to talk to your spouse when they need to?

How is your relationship with relatives (i.e. brothers and sisters, etc.)

-how often do you contact them?

-did you send them Eid cards/gifts or at least call on Eid?

-do you visit each other at least once a year (if you're not living close by)

-are there any grudges that need to be cleared up?

-have you forgiven them for any past hurts and errors?

-have you sought their forgiveness for mistakes you have made that hurt them?

-have you tried to bring them closer to Allah?

-have you helped them with Halal needs (i.e. financial help)?

-do your children know your brothers and sisters?

SECTION THREE: Your money (link to money page)

-Is your income (i.e. job) Halal? If you're not sure, who can you consult about this?

-have you increased your wealth during last year?

-how have you thanked Allah for it?

-did you pay your Zakat?

-how often and how much (approximately) did you spend in charity?

-what kinds of things, people, causes did you spend on this year?

-do you keep track of expenses?

-do you have a personal budget?

-did I make a will to make sure that my property and belongings are divided Islamically after I die?

-has your debt increased or decreased?

-have you completely stopped taking and giving Riba (interest)?

-what are the top five worthy causes to give to next year?

-what have you done to support Muslim businesses in the last year?

SECTION FOUR: Your health

-have you thanked Allah for your health?

-have you exercised regularly?

-if not, why not?

-if so, why?

-do you eat properly?

-do you have a balanced diet?

-do you try to eat what is Halal?

-do you regularly pray extra prayers to worship Allah with heart and body?

-do you know how to take care of your health?

-have you encouraged family and friends to do the same?

-when did you have your last medical checkup?

SECTION FIVE: Your Career

-have you lost focus and direction in your job or career?

-do you like your job?

-is your job Islamically acceptable?

-if not, what kind of career change can you make that will provide you with a Halal income while using your skills for the sake of Allah?

-have you consulted a qualified person about this?

-if your job is Halal, have you tried to improve productivity and dedication to your career?

-how can you use your career to improve your relationship with Allah, benefit the Ummah, and humanity?

-would you recommend your career to a practicing Muslim?

SECTION SIX: Your education

-what are your current qualifications?

-are you satisfied with them?

-if not, what level of education do you want to attain?

-what are the Halal means (i.e. interest-free loans) available to further your education?

-if a student, is your field of study one that will bring you closer to Allah?

-how will your field of study benefit Muslims and humanity in general?

-have you studied with enthusiasm and dedication?

-what additional programs or courses should you take to improve your level of education?

SECTION SEVEN: Your time

-what did you spent the most time on this year?

-are you satisfied with this?

-if not, where do you want most of your time to be spent?

-what changes do you need to make to accommodate this?

-do you have good time management skills?

-if not, what can you do about it?

-can you read a book about it?

-can you spend some money doing a course on time management?

-do you have a daily or weekly to do list, which lists all of the tasks you need to complete?

-what would be an example of a day in your life where time was well spent?

-how much free time did you have on average per week this year?

-what is the number one activity you participated in?

-are you satisfied with this?

-how many hours of free time do you currently have?

-how can you better spend free time?

-how can your free time make you closer to Allah?

-how much tv do you watch?

-do you spend more time watching tv or talking to your spouse and children?

-can you reduce your tv time?

SECTION EIGHT: Your work for Islam

-how much time do you volunteer for good causes?

-have you volunteered for any soup kitchen, thrift store or similar project?

-what are three worthy projects you can devote your time to in your community for the sake of Allah?

Dawa

-how much time have you spent conveying the message of Islam to others?

-have you prayed for those Muslims who do not pray and fast?

-have you visited your friends and relatives who are away from Islam?

-have you or your neighbor participated in each other's happiness or sorrows?

-is there a phone tree in your community so that you can easily inform other Muslims about events and issues of concern?

-how often have you had a conversation about Islam with neighbors, classmates or co-workers?

-have you given any Islamic literature to a non-Muslim this past year?

-have you followed up with non-Muslims who may have expressed an interest in Islam to you?

-have you attended any Dawa training programs or classes?

-have you written any letters to non-Muslims about Islam?

You and the Masjid

-have you volunteered your time for your Masjid or Muslim school?

-since September 11, has your Masjid reached out to the local neighborhood with the message of Islam through sympathy and good communication?

-have you helped your mosque organize an open house to share Islam with the local neighborhood?

-does your city's Muslim community have a united council or federation? If so, is your Masjid a part of it?

-what are five things you can do to make your Masjid more connected with the rest of your city's Muslim community?

-have you developed any skills which a Muslim organization like the Masjid can use?

These are some questions which we came up with. They may or may not apply to you. Only you know yourself better, after Allah. So ask yourself all the questions which you want to ask, all the right questions. And then do these three things:

• Thank Allah for everything good you have been able to do

• Seek Allah's forgiveness for each and every sin and your shortcomings

• Take a pen and paper to plan for a better life

 

 


Your Comments

Manwar Ali, Trinidad - wrote on 12/20/2010 10:12:20 AM
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Comment: Excellent Guidance material. I pray that many people will use it andmay Allah Bless you all.


Ahmed, Le Mans, France - wrote on 8/19/2010 1:35:23 AM
Rating: Rating

Comment: this is great job for the ummah. have you thought adding a section talking about the muslim social involvement. Muslim should be involved in the city governance where he lives in.


muhsinat yusuf, Nigeria - wrote on 3/31/2010 11:05:30 AM
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Comment: Masha'Allah this is great it has enliven my heart and remind me more of my duty .Jazakumu lahu kharan


ALINOOR, NAIROBI - wrote on 12/21/2009 3:49:10 AM
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Comment: masshaalah, May Almihgty bless all of us,wonderfull article that guide and perfect for all that wishes to look for the right path.God bless the writer,,.


ABDUSALAAM ABBAS, LAGOS, NIGERIA - wrote on 1/2/2006 11:39:39 AM
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Comment: It is a very commendable effort.The only omision is in respect of general social responsibily.There is need to show concern to how we are governed and impact on humanity in general.


anna, Slovakia - wrote on 10/28/2005 5:49:11 PM
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Comment: thank you for this list it made me realise that there is a lot more to do.


Zainudeen, India - wrote on 7/24/2005 7:17:34 AM
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Comment: Thank you for the excellent work which really helps to evaluate ourselves. It opens many doors in our heart to be a true Muslim. Every true Muslim should read this guide and know himself where he/she stands. May Allah bless you, all Muslim and mankind in this world?


aderounmu abdulwasi', nigeria - wrote on 4/2/2005 10:48:09 PM
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Comment: it's a good evaluation scheme.i like it


mastura diana jaffar, kuala lumpur, malaysia - wrote on 1/30/2005 9:47:01 PM
Rating: Rating

Comment: Thank you for the 'to-do' list - it's an excellent way for me to follow and keep track.


muqitah, Michigan - wrote on 1/19/2005 4:06:20 PM
Rating: Rating

Comment: I read this article and was promptly ashamed, at how much I have forgotten to do; even those things that I used to do regularly. Thank you all, for the reminder. May Allah(swt) bless us with taqwaa and his Rahma.


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