Book Talk: Accepted Whispers

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Dua is such a beautiful experience. Yet I find myself not giving it  it’s true due. Sometimes I’m at a loss for words, and sometimes I cease to reflect on it’s true essence and realize that it’s far more than just a few spoken words.

Sometime last year, I came across this tweet from Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan.

The tweet

The tweet

I already had “Fortress of the Muslim” so, naturally my attention went on to search what “Accepted Whispers” was about and where I could get it.

Alhamdullilah, after getting my hands on it- I couldn’t be more grateful. It’s an absolute must-have for any one looking to ‘upgrade’ their dua so to speak. It has the most beautiful duas. Ones that you hear the Imams of Makkah make during Ramadan. If you have ever listened to those duas and thought “Sigh, I wish I could make dua like that”- look no further. Words are not enough to describe the beauty and blessing of this book.

The duas are organised into daily readings as per the days of a week which makes it incredibly user-friendly and ensures a complete reading thereby not missing a single dua. The translation and commentary is also one of the definite highlights of the book as it enables the seeker to dive into the wisdom and essence of the words spoken.

The first two sections of the book (“Introduction”, “Prayer and It’s Etiquettes”) introduced me to the concept of dua in such a succinct yet thorough way that it made me feel as though I’ve been making dua the wrong way my whole life.

I love this book and am so grateful to Allah that He introduced me to it. I’ve been meaning to share this with my Muslim readers and am so glad that I finally am able to do so.

Here are all the relevant links for you:

Buy the book: Amazon, AlBalagh, MeccaBooks

PDF online: http://bit.ly/VSON6G

(Note: This is an older version of the book- without the introductory and commentary sections I believe. Regardless, it should be of benefit inshaAllah <3 )

Preview: http://bit.ly/TWW5F0

Ustadh Nouman’s tweet: https://twitter.com/noumanbayyinah/status/349353009383350272

Feel free to comment below if there is anything I can assist with inshaAllah!

Take care and have a blessed day.

With peace,

Kausar

Post-exams life + FREE Ramadan Mubarak Facebook Cover Download!

A little Friday inspiration <3

A little Friday inspiration <3

Ah! Feels so good to back and writing again!

Honestly, I’ve been meaning to come back and write here for far too long. I just got done with my semester exams about a week ago– and cue family gatherings galore (in fact, I’m having one today as well!).

So to celebrate my resume to blogging on this little place once again- I’ve brought FREE downloads for everyone!

Here they are in a few colour selections so you can pick and choose what you like ^_^

To download: right click and select "Save image as"

To download: right click and select “Save image as”

To download: right click and select "Save image as"

To download: right click and select “Save image as”

To download: right click and select "Save image as"

To download: right click and select “Save image as”

To download: right click and select "Save image as"

To download: right click and select “Save image as”

To download: right click and select "Save image as"

To download: right click and select “Save image as”

If you liked these covers and are using them, please message me with your profile (if you can) so I can see it. It would be the sweetest thing!

Quite a few things are brimming here at my side. One of them being a re-brand of this blog. Now, I know it sounds so huge and all- but really what I hope to do is tweak a few things so I can serve YOU better. Apart from that, I am also on my way to becoming a LIFO Trainer (Alhamdullilah!), and taking part in this brilliant graphic design course as a beta tester. Seriously, check it out. Even the free part of the course is pretty neat and helps you get your design basics in place.

Reading wise- I’m currently crazy about the Kobo app, and reading Naima Roberts’ “From My Sister’s Lips” on it (finally). Loving every word. It brings back the spirit of being a Muslim and having Islam in my life, Alhamdullilah <3 Have you read it? I want to know what you thought of it! Didn’t yet? Let’s read it together and discuss our favourite parts later! :)

So, tell me about YOUR post-exams life at the moment (if you, like me, are a student) or if not- tell me what’s up these days? Really, I’d love to know!

With peace,

Kausar

Feature: Illustrator and Graphic Designer Gavin Campbell

Earlier this week, I received an email from one of the 40 certified Adobe Community Professionals in the UK - Gavin Campbell (!). I was thrilled to say the least, and so asked him if I could share it’s contents with the lovely blog community here and he was cool with it :)

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Gavin Campbell is an extremely talented graphic designer and illustrator who has designed for companies like Microsoft and BBC. He was one of the two keynote speakers at the ‘New Creatives’ Adobe.com event in London on the 27th of March following a feature and interview on adobe.com.

You can check out the recording of the event below where he talks about:

  • what it means to be a new creative
  • why to find a start that works for you (i.e be yourself!)
  • why not to follow trends
  • why he became an illustrator
  • his advice for aspiring creatives
  • his influences
  • things that have worked for him as a freelance illustrator
  • his career highs and lows

Also, here is the interview from Adobe.com (don’t miss!). Gavin talks about what inspires him, what he thinks about new creative mediums and if creativity can prove to be a lovely endeavor. All issues designers/artists ponder about time and again. You can browse Gavin’s stunning light inspired work here.

I hope you enjoyed this post and are just as inspired as I am! I feel so grateful to share this with you as I love learning from the giants in this amazing industry and makes me feel so lucky to have stumbled upon this path. Creativity is pretty awesome and I hope someday can I be even remotely as innovative as they are.

Well, a girl can pray! :D

Until then.

With peace,

Kausar

Updates!

Peace and hello everyone!

Life

Life

It’s been a while since I’ve been around to posting here regularly. Basically, life happened. However, I am now inspired and do not intend to keep it quite here any longer (Alhamdullilah!).

I want to share some exciting new updates with you since my last few posts.

Remember the special feature interview with Maria Islam from Halalify? Well, we got the Ramadan Battle Plan project successfully funded! A special thanks to every single one of you who took out the time to read, respond, take part, and support the campaign. I am grateful beyond words.

Aaand… I got Hootsuite certified. Yes, that means I can now provide my social media services with more street credibility than before. That makes me super happy and more motivated than ever before to help you better your social media. The library of content on Hootsuite university is fantastic and out of this world, highly recommend!

I am currently in the process of updating the various pages on this site so please bear with me while I craft a copy that lets you in on what Love, Peace, and Gratitude is all about (in the best way possible). I truly value and appreciate your patience and support!

In the meantime, feel free to follow me on Instagram (username ‘KausarAzam’) and also check out my Portfolio page here that I’ve been updating quite regularly for you especially if you’re looking to hire some design help :)

Please let me know what it is that you’d like to see here more of? More posts on social media/PR help, book reviews, inspiration posts, etc? I look forward to your awesome suggestions!

Have an fantastic day!

With peace,

Kausar

7 Reasons Your Business Should Be On Tumblr

I’m a big proponent of using Tumblr for business. Yes, we have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest of course. However, if you are truly serious about connecting with your audience in a way like never before- Tumblr is the place to be at.

Here’s top 7 reasons why I believe businesses, non profits, and other organisations should start using Tumblr:

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1) Easy Setup

Tumblr is incredibly easy to get set and started! You have all this amazing content you are itching to share with your audience (new releases, behind the scenes, fan raves, etc) but cannot wait (or don’t have the finances) to set up a big girl website- Tumblr provides an excellent opportunity for you to do what you’d normally start out doing on a website but in an easy, no-nonsense way.

2) ‘What To Post?’ Is Not A Problem Any More

Tumblr’s feature lays out a neat content idea menu for you. It’s hard not to get inspired when you’re looking at all those options!

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3) Get Discovered

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The “Tags” feature on your Tumblr posts can help a ton in reaching out to your target audience! Use them wisely with intent- and you will be on your way to share your content with and attract the right personalities!

4) Search Engine Friendly

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This article taught me that Tumblr is more search engine friendly than Facebook:

Tumblr blogs can be accessed directly via the Web, whereas Facebook content is available only to its users. That means Tumblr content gets indexed by search engines and can increase your search visibility.

There is no reason why you or your business shouldn’t be on Tumblr for this point alone!

5) Wonderful Community

If you believe in real engagement online to build genuine relationships (I don’t see why you wouldn’t) – Tumblr has what you seek. I personally find Tumblr to have an amazing community of users who love to Like, Reblog and Ask Questions. If you give your audience what they need and find interesting while maintaining your or your brand’s true, authentic self- you will definitely witness a fantastic engagement like never before.

6) A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Much of the best content on Tumblr is visual. So artistic and creative businesses can take advantage of this feature to connect with a new audiences with their message.

7) Being Human

I don’t believe Tumblr is the place to do relentless advertising or marketing for your brand. If you are seeking to do this on there (or even other social media platforms for that matter)– I hate to burst your bubble but… please find someplace else.

However, if you are going the sublime route of personalizing your brand and engaging with your audience at a deeper, more personal, and insightful level– welcome to Tumblr :)

I hope you found this helpful. I’d love to know if you or your biz are already on Tumblr or are in the ‘considering it’ stage.

Is it even worth your time with all these social networks you’re already finding hard to handle? I think… yes. You may have to subtract a few which are not working and replace with quality Tumblr activity and compare results. The call is on you.

Share your thoughts and comment below!

Interested in more articles like these? Hit the ‘Like’ button so I can continue churning out content that YOU like.

Have an awesome day.

With peace,

Kausar

Special Interview With Maria Islam, Creator Of Ramadan Battle Plan

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Treat Ramadan like a dignitary visiting you…

Ramadan is only 3 months and 20 or so days away! Can you believe it?

If you are ready to up the ante on your Ramadan productivity this year, you need to know what the buzz is about with Halalify‘s Ramadan Battle Plan.

What is it, you ask?

Created by Sr. Maria Islam, Ramadan Battle Plan is a daily planner designed to help you take full advantage of Ramadan. 

Measuring 8.25″ by 5.25″ it has plenty of space to jot notes down while remaining compact enough to be carried in handbag.

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Monthly view

1) Daily view includes:

  • Plan your prayers
  • Record water intake
  • As Ramadan progresses your Sunnah Size it! section increases as each day’s Battle Plan is added to the list. Allowing you a chance to build small sustainable habits. Insha’Allah

2) Monthly View:

  • 3 Months: Sha’ban, Ramadan and Shawwal
  • Reminders for the White days of each month as well as Laylatul Qadr (based on the USA days so it may differ for you)

3) Qu’ran Reading Roadmap:

  • Pace yourself to complete your goals
  • Track your progress
  • Each Juz’ is provided with the name of the Surah and the verse
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Quran Reading Roadmap

You can grab this awesome planner by supporting the Kickstarter campaign and chipping in: http://kck.st/1fEedg7

Now that you are in the scoop regarding what this planner is and how to get it… aren’t you curious to know who the personality is behind this productivity hack? I am!

Introducing… Sr. Maria Islam from Halalify planners.

Ok, Bismillah… here we go!
Alhamdullilah, so glad to have you here Sr. Maria! For the benefit of the new comers here, I would love if you can tell us a little about yourself!

I’m Maria Islam, founder of Halalify and designer of Ramadan Battle Plan. I’ve been Muslim since April 2006 Alhamdulillah and I’m stay at home mother to 3 little Muslims, Alhamdulillah.

MashaaAllah, awesome. So, as we are talking planners here… I’m curious- and also sure most of us would love to know- what was it that inspired you come out with Islamic themed planners?

When I first became Muslim I wanted to do everything and know everything at once. I didn’t know many Muslims and I have a hard time visualizing plans. I need to write things down and they become more achievable to me. So knowing that I work better with physical reminders I created a custom planner to help me pray 5 times a day and keep track of stuff related to learning Islam.

Once I was accustom to praying 5 times a day I didn’t need the planner as much but I continued using it.

 In 2011, I miscarried twins and it was a really difficult time for me. Ramadan has always been special to me and the last 10 nights really sought after because I find comfort in Allah’s promise. Alhamdulillah. So to keep myself motivated I made a planner to prepare for Ramadan. It was really busy, it had a daily view, weekly and monthly. I showed it to a friend and she suggested I release it. I did and the response was overwhelming.

Every year since I survey the users on my mailing list and based on their responses craft the next year’s battle plan. Alhamdulillah its very fulfilling.

MashaaAllah! So, it was in benefiting from a planner that you made for yourself that started this journey for you?

Yes! I’m also always thinking of ways to maximize my hasanat and there are only so many hours in the day and motivation to go around. I’m hoping, insha’Allah that I garner some residual hasanat, barakat and sadaqah jariya by helping others make the best of their Ramadan. Which is why I always offer a complimentary download to anyone who wants it.

That’s beautiful. From using the planner myself, I can attest to the difference it makes when I don’t use it. It truly is a game changer as it helps one really scrutinize and improve upon the things that may otherwise go unnoticed. JazakAllah khair for putting in all this hard work for the Muslim Ummah’s benefit!

Wa iyakum! and JazakAllah khairan for using it!

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Daily view

So, this is the third year for Ramadan Battle Plan I believe? Can you tell us how the present edition came to be the way it is? (i.e, new features, better durability, etc.)

4th, Each year’s planner is an improvement on the previous ones. I take the feedback I received print it out and go one by one seeing which one makes sense to add and which ones don’t or aren’t in tune with the direction I want it to take.

This year’s planner is HUGE, one of the many requests was more room to plan both day and night worship as well as hours that accommodate people who work at night. In order to do that I added 2 pages per day and both a 12 hour and its corresponding hour in the 24 hr cycle. This added more room for note taking as well as planning prayers etc.

Sorry, my bad! 4th year mashaaAllah! The new features sound fantastic.

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Alhamdullilah, success!

This year, you are using Kickstarter to fund your campaign. How would you describe your experience so far? I take it that Kickstarter is not easy on approving projects?

I knew it was going to be difficult but it was worse than I expected. Primarily because its overwhelming in general and this is a one woman operation so its a lot to do at once. It took a while to get approved but I think it coincided with them reaching a $1billion milestone so there were some hiccups.

Wow, mashaaAllah. I think most of us would agree on one thing though-  the fact being that your project got approved after undergoing such a difficult process is no small feat and speaks volumes about the credibility of it. Congratulations for making it!

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Halalify Living Sunnah Daily Planner

As a design enthusiast, here is something I am personally itching to know- how do you go about your creative process? Your planners are so detailed and I am always in awe admiring your design mashaaAllah!

I have an idea of what I want it to look like and I sketch it. I keep sketching until I’m satisfied with the look. I then recreate it in InDesign and keep tweaking until I feel I can’t improve on it any more. It nags at me until I’m satisfied with it. That lets me know I’ve reached a stage where its the best I can possibly do at that moment. This could take months. It actually took me months just to be satisfied with the daily portion of Ramadan Battle Plan. I have a few dozen variations on my hard drive by the time I’m finished.

I zoom in so that all I see is that small portion I’m working on. If it’s the Dhuhr box in the prayer section or the Sunnah Size It! section. I’ve definitely spent hundreds of hours on it if not a thousand or more. I enjoy what I do and it’s of service to the ummah so it works out. Alhamdulillah.

MashaaAllah! The hard work definitely shows.

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The Limited Edition

Coming back to the campaign- this year you are also offering a Limited Edition version of the planner. Can you tell us more about it and why you decided to have an LE version up for grabs?

Yes, every year I get requests for hot pink or purple planners. Except that is not feasible because I have to place a large enough order to make it affordable. Because Kickstarter is a crowdfunding campaign by the end of I’ll know exactly how many to order and hence its only available during this campaign as an incentive to get it fully funded.

Sounds fantastic. Sr. Maria, thank you so much for taking out the time to do this interview. A special note to all who are reading this– please support Sr. Maria and the amazing work she has continually done for our advantage. Go over to the Kickstarter page here and chip in! We have only until March 18 to make this a success!

Before we conclude, I’d love for you share with us anything that helps us know more about you, get in touch, and the different ways we can help spread the word?

 JazakAllah khairan for your time! Yes, this is an all or nothing campaign, if it doesn’t get funded I don’t receive any of the funds which means there won’t be any physical planners for this year. Alhamdulillah we are at 19%.

You can help by sharing on Facebook and Twitter: ramadanbattleplan.com/share

Alhamdullilah, it is an honour to be Sr. Maria’s friend and getting to conduct an interview with her.

Be a part of the movement: grab a badge, chip in, spread the word. InshaaAllah, no effort will go unnoticed near Allah Most Loving <3

Let’s strive to make this Ramadan an incredibly transforming experience for all of us this year!

SPREAD THE WORD:

http://kck.st/1fEedg7

http://halalify.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RamadanBattlePlan

ramadanbattleplan.com/share

GRAB THE BADGE:

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I want to know what you think…

Have you used Halalify‘s planners before? Leave a supportive message below so it encourages others to buy inshaaAllah!

Any questions/suggestions/thoughts? I’m all ears.

Peace, love, & happiness

- Kausar

Book Talk: The Examined Life

This book talk has been a long time coming!

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The Examined Life is written by psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz in which he recounts stories of his clients from all walks of life.

Here is a book blurb from Goodreads:

An extraordinary book for anyone eager to understand the hidden motives that shape our lives.

We are all storytellers—we create stories to make sense of our lives. But it is not enough to tell tales. There must be someone to listen.

In his work as a practicing psychoanalyst, Stephen Grosz has spent the last twenty-five years uncovering the hidden feelings behind our most baffling behavior. The Examined Life distils more than 50,000 hours of conversation into pure psychological insight without the jargon.

This extraordinary book is about one ordinary process: talking, listening, and understanding. Its aphoristic and elegant stories teach us a new kind of attentiveness. They also unveil a delicate self-portrait of the analyst at work and show how lessons learned in the consulting room can reveal as much to the analyst as to the patient.

These are stories about our everyday lives: they are about the people we love and the lies we tell, the changes we bear and the grief. Ultimately, they show us not only how we lose ourselves but also how we might find ourselves.

Now on to how I felt about it:

I am a psych nerd at heart, so when my brother showed me this book at the bookstore I grabbed it without thinking twice.

If one is not familiar with Sigmund Freud and his ideas, I think they might be taken aback with the content of this book. I, for one am familiar with him since one of my majors is Psychology hence I sort of knew how to wrap my head around the content of the book and understand where it was coming from (context is always essential). However, perhaps it’s my ignorance speaking here- but I am still scarred by some concepts of Freud and hence not only disagree but have a different view of some of the things mentioned in it.

Keeping that aside though, I have to say this book was compelling. I was gripped. That is something you cannot escape with this book I believe. Every story is recounted in such an interesting way, it definitely makes you think (and I love books which make me think).

If I had to state one big takeaway from this book, it would be that us humans are complex. Understanding and making sense of human behaviour is not a simple thing (or even common sense many a time). The book reinforced the concept of taking each person in my life I know as they are- in their frame of reference. To not pass superficial judgement on why someone I know behaves the way they do.

I know, my thoughts seem a little scattered. But that is exactly how I feel about this book. In one way I love how it forces one to think deep within themselves and reflect (which I love) and in one way I just… do not agree with certain concepts and feel there can be better (less disturbing) explanations for it.

So, what do you think? Have you read this book/interested in reading it? Your thoughts on Freud?

You know – I love conversation.

Until my next post, have a great day!