4. Ihsan: What Islamic Spirituality Looks Like

We spoke about priorities in worshiping Allah. We also spoke about how this prioritization, when done right, will cause Allah to love us. The Alpha Muslim Mindset is much more than a mental model for spirituality and worship. In fact, if that spirituality doesn’t have an effect in our daily life and dealings with others, it shows a deficiency in our understanding. So far, we’ve talked soul food. In this lesson we talk IRL (In Real Life) stuff.

I cite Abu Ya’la Shaddad bin Aws (may Allah be pleased with him), who cites the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, who said: “Verily Allah has prescribed ihsan (proficiency, perfection) in all things. So if you kill then kill well; and if you slaughter, then slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters.” [Sahih Muslim]

1. Spirituality is Practical

While the word ihsan has spiritual connotations – being the highest level of worshiping Allah – it’s literal meaning is more practical. That’s what the hadith highlights. Look at examples Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used. They are both related to worldly matters…and probably the last examples that would come to mind when talking about proficiency. The hyperbole is a rhetorical device to emphasize the main point.

Ihsan is required during combat? Yes, even during combat?
Ihsan is required when slaughtering animals? Yes, even when slaughtering.

The qualifier “…in all things” emphasizes that this order is categorically general. We are required to do our absolute best in every single action and aspect of our lives.

2. Don’t be a n00b

It is impermissible for a Muslim to be a scrub, a n00b, crap and/or wack at anything. When I first became more religious and for many years after I had a very poor attitude about my career and finances. I used to think it was tawakkul (spiritual reliance on Allah.) It was negligence. I wasn’t living up to the command of Ihsan.

I used to come in to work late, leave early, procrastinate on the job, take needlessly long breaks for prayer (since I was ‘religious,’) and generally be of little value to my boss and firm. However, my work was always of high quality because I’m good at what I do. This is no excuse.

What’s more, I had this misplaced sense of entitlement – that I should be getting promotions and raises just by me showing up. Funnily enough I had a good relationship with my boss and he always had my back. For a while, I made progress at work by leveraging my relationship with him. It wasn’t until he left and I had to prove my worth to my new boss that I realized my poor position. By then, I had all these bad work habits ingrained. That, combined with feeling demoralized, made my work suffer even more.

3. Self-improvement Starts Here

Last year, I was introduced to a self-improvement guru called Ramit Sethi through a friend. He showed me an entire World that I didn’t know existed. It took me reading the work of a non-Muslim to understand and internalize the concept of Ihsan.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ allegedly said: “The wise statement is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it, then he is more worthy of it.” [Jami Al-Tirmidhi]

Think about it, though. Who are the elite experts in most, if not all Worldly matters? Non-Muslims. One could make the argument that since they have no share of the Hereafter, they busy themselves with material gain. I say, we Muslims have to work twice as hard as non-Muslims to see success in both aspects of our lives.

That is Ihsan. After applying the concepts I learnt from Ramit Sethi and similar experts, over the past several years I managed to:

  • Quit the 9-to-5 and work for myself full time
  • Launch three businesses
  • Author the definitive book on Masculinity (40 Hadith on Masculinity: How to Be a Good Man)
  • Get in the best physical shape of my life
  • …And much more

If I think about it, MuslimMan™’s only objective is to help you realize Ihsan in its complete form – spiritual and material. We’re doing this by documenting our own journeys, because we have so far to go, and by sharing it with you all to encourage you to become the best version of yourselves.

In our fifth and final lesson, I’m going to share the one supplication that maintains my internal compass and makes my faith bulletproof, by Allah’s grace alone.

Start Lesson Five 👉

Join 900+ readers. Enter your best email and tap the button.

Always free • Unsubscribe anytime